Personal Stories

Meet Hannah

Smiling woman in front of a window

“Some clients may not see their norm as a barrier. That’s how they navigate the world.”

Rehabilitation Specialist Hannah Ritson’s job is to assess those barriers and advocate for workplace accommodations that will help clients succeed. She depends heavily on in-person service to see what physical challenges there are, so when WorkBC’s Victoria office closed down she had to find new ways of working.

Hannah took a video tour of one client’s home, for example. As the client moved around her space, Hannah noticed that the client had a drop foot and no use of her left arm. That gave her important insight into what jobs would be appropriate.

Another part of Hannah’s job is collaborating with the Job Developers and Job Retention Specialists on her team to help clients overcome the stigma still attached to disability. One client, who lives with Parkinson’s disease, had impressive bookkeeping and accounting experience but couldn’t land a job. She came to WorkBC when employers couldn’t see past her tremors and stuttering.

That’s where Hannah and her colleagues came in. They marketed the client to employers – highlighted her skills, helped her disclose her disability, outlined the necessary accommodations – and supported her through 40 applications and 20 interviews. Today, she’s working in her field for an inclusive, flexible employer who appreciates her and is invested in meeting her unique needs.

*March of Dimes Canada is subcontracted to provide disability employment services for WorkBC, a provincial government program.

A new job, a new chapter

When Jennifer* starts a new job, she gets her confidence back. But job hunting hasn’t been easy for the Victoria accountant. She says that being hard of hearing and having English as a second language can make it difficult for people to understand her.

“I couldn’t convince them I was the best candidate,” she explains.

Jennifer has another disability that sometimes causes tremors. It doesn’t interfere with her work, but after witnessing her symptoms, one of her employers tried to convince her to go on sick leave.

“I’m okay,” Jennifer told her. “I just need to take longer breaks and go for short walks.”

At another job, she was fired in the middle of income tax season when her symptoms became more obvious.

Jennifer has used the services at WorkBC* during a number of her job searches. Most recently, the staff in the Victoria office helped her improve her resume and cover letter, and contacted employers to highlight her skills and explain the accommodations she needs. They even attended interviews with her. Last November, the team helped her land an exciting new job in her field. The hours are flexible, she can work from home, and her skills are appreciated.

While many people dread tax season, Jennifer is looking forward to it. She can’t wait to use her specialized skills to prepare complicated returns for her clients.

*Jennifer is a pseudonym
*March of Dimes Canada is subcontracted to provide disability employment services for WorkBC, a provincial government program.