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February 2021



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Archive for February, 2021

ASAN February Newsletter
Dear friends, While winter weather may be sticking around, we’re still springing forward into this new year of advocacy. Here is a summary of what we’ve been up to in the last month, and of what we have coming up. We are thrilled that the work of our community over the last few years has already begun to show results. We welcome the withdrawal of Medicaid work requirements by the new administration, which will make it easier for disabled people to access health care and other vital services. This is one of the many issues we have championed over the years, so it is especially exciting to see such progress. We continue to work to make sure that information about COVID-19 — and the benefits of COVID relief legislation — are accessible to all people with disabilities. COVID-19 is especially dangerous to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, but too often, the facts about COVID-19 are not shared in ways that are accessible to us. That’s why we released a new accessible fact sheet all about the COVID-19 vaccine, available in Plain Language and Easy Read. Because of the pandemic’s disproportionate effect on our community, It’s also important for disabled people to be included in vital COVID-19 relief. We dedicated a week of action to calling on Congress to fund Medicaid home- and community-based services (HCBS) in the current bill. To all those who made a call, sent a letter, or helped spread the word: thank you! The COVID relief bill hasn’t been finalized, so there is still time to make our voices heard: use our script to call your Senators! We joined with other disability organizations to condemn the movie “MUSIC,” which encourages the use of deadly prone restraints, after the film’s team refused to consider the input of nonspeaking and autistic people. Instead, we encourage you to take a moment of your day to listen  – by watching CommunicationFIRST’s new short film, “LISTEN,” produced by and with nonspeaking autistic people, and launched on February 12, 2021, the MUSIC US release date. On Monday, March 1st, the disability community will gather virtually across the world to remember disabled victims of filicide – disabled people murdered by their family members or caregivers. Since 2012, ASAN and other disability rights organizations have come together to send a clear message that disability is not a justification for violence. Everyone is welcome at our Virtual Vigil, or click here to see a list of all vigils. Feel free to choose one local to you, or plan to join one whose time or platform works best for you. Applications are due March 7th for this summer’s Autism Campus Inclusion Leadership Academy. The ACI summer leadership training prepares autistic students to engage in disability advocacy on their college campuses.  ACI participants learn about making student groups, understanding disability policy, and talking to people in power. After the Academy, students get help from ASAN to meet their advocacy goals at their college. This year’s program will be held virtually from July 8th through the 16th, 2021. In addition, ASAN is hiring for a Programs and Communications Associate position. Consider becoming a part of the team and helping us to put together programs like ACI.  ASAN is proud to help future leaders in our community develop their advocacy skills, and to provide resources that people with disabilities can use to understand and weigh in on critical policy issues. We also value the opportunity to spend time remembering some of the people we have lost this year. Through all the different types of work that we do, and all the spaces we are trying to build, we are so proud to be in this fight for our community with all of you.   Sincerely, Zoe Gross
Director of Advocacy
Autistic Self Advocacy Network
P.S. We are sending all our best wishes to those impacted by the recent severe storms happening all over the US right now. If you have a disability and need help understanding how to connect to disaster resources in your area, please contact Portlight Inclusive Disaster Strategies as well as your local government.
Support our work

Genevieve BeaucheminMontreal Bureau Chief, CTV National News

@ctvbeauchemin ContactPublished Sunday, January 31, 2021 12:35PM EST

MONTREAL — An innovative, life-changing job training program is making change for Canadians with autism who are facing some of the highest levels of unemployment in the country.

Giant Steps Montreal, an organization devoted to educating autistic youth, has teamed up with grocery chains Loblaw and Provigo to provide training and internships as part of a new nine-month program.

“They have an opportunity for full-time employment, full pay [and] benefits, which is what we are hoping for them,” Wagar Adult Education Centre principal Nick Katalifos told CTV News. His school is providing students as part of the program.

The national unemployment rate in Canada is just over eight per cent, but that figure is more than ten times higher for Canadians with autism. And the new bilingual Polaris Enterprise initiative is hoping to tackle that by preparing students to be ready for front-line work.

“It’s not about social responsibility or charity. It’s really about the bottom line. And there’s a whole business case around employing autistic adults and people with disabilities,” Andre Pereira, project manager at Giant Steps for Employment Initiatives, told CTV News.

Through the program, students will be getting hands-on training for warehouse work. And in a mockup mini-mart in a corner of a cafeteria in a Montreal school, students will also learn how to take online orders and cashier training.

And this type of training can be a crucial step for Canadians to land a job.

“I have never worked before. I am not used to working in real jobs because I never had [one] before,” Ismael, a 28-year-old trainee at a grocery warehouse, told CTV News.

Eric Bourbeau, who has trained dozens of would-be workers in his 17 years on the job at Provigo, applauds Ismael’s progress so far.

“You have to take a little more time to train them, but after that, you will have a very good employee,” Bourbeau told CTV News, who said he felt these employees were big assets for companies.

In a press release, Pereira agreed and explained that beyond employers having a more cohesive and diversified team, the benefits also included higher retention rates for a business with high turnover; lower rates of absenteeism; and equal, if not higher, productivity.

The Polaris Enterprise program was inspired by a U.S. company that built a state-of-the-art distribution centre, with 40 per cent of its workforce made up of people with all kinds of different disabilities, according to the

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