My Accessible GC - Episode 1 - Descriptive transcript
(0:00-0:09) Screen Description: The screen reads: My Accessible GC (English) followed by Mon GC Accessible (French). On the right-hand side of the text, there is a circular logo of three stick figures, colored pink, blue and green with a black maple leaf in the centre. Surrounding the text are images of persons with physical and invisible disabilities. The background is image-gradient following the pink, blue and green colour scheme, which is associated with accessibility initiatives in the federal public service.
(0:10) Screen Description: Deputy Minister Yazmine Laroche is sitting on the right-hand side of the screen with Mae Johnson (Health Canada) on the left side of the screen in an interview style set-up.
(0:10-0:40) Yazmine Laroche: Hi everybody, I am Yazmine Laroche. I’m the Deputy Minister for Public Service Accessibility and I’m really excited to be launching this new series, which is going to focus on public servants doing amazing work—public servants who also happen to have a disability of some kind. And we’re kicking off this series today with the wonderful Mae Johnson from Health Canada, who is the Chair of the Committee of Persons with Disabilities at Health Canada. So I’d really like to welcome you, Mae, today.
(0:40-0:42) Mae Johnson: Thank you so much!
(0:42-0:44) Yazmine Laroche: Thanks so much for agreeing to come on.
(0:44-0:46) Mae Johnson: Oh, it’s my pleasure!
(0:46-0:51) Yazmine Laroche: Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself and a little bit about the kind of work that you do?
(0:51- 1:13) Mae Johnson: I am currently the Director of the Bureau of Policy, Intergovernmental and International Affairs and, you know, that role is a policy role within a science-based organization, and so we’re really focused on setting standards and delivering regulations around food safety and nutrition.
(1:13-1:24) Yazmine Laroche: Mae, I’d like to ask you, we’ve spoken about your role as a leader, but I’d like to ask you about what is the role of leadership, generally, in terms of advancing accessibility?
(1:24-2:11) Mae Johnson: So, at Health Canada right now, we have something, a kind of action plan that senior management has committed to implementing. And that’s the leadership dimension, that’s where the senior management in the department has said:
“This is something that is critical for us, as an employer, to lend our support behind and fully implement.”
Of course, each department is different and how they organize themselves, but that’s the dimension of the management leadership as well. Where there is usually a senior manager, a senior executive identified, who is really responsible for thinking about advancing the voice and the actions of the Employee Network.
(2:11-2:24) Yazmine Laroche: I’d be really interested in knowing what kind of challenges have you faced then in the work environment, what kind of support have you gotten to help deal with some of those barriers?
(2:24-4:05) Mae Johnson: I do have a congenital hearing loss, so my hearing is deteriorating over time and I have a pretty significant tinnitus, which often accompanies a hearing loss. And there was always a tension in my mind, knowing that I have a physical impairment, and I never wanted that to interfere. Our jobs, my job, involves listening, it involves communication and it involves engaging. So, when I’m limited in that, on a phone call, for example, or at an international meeting when I’m trying to hear the interpreters, it can really pose some significant issues for me. So, quite a number of years ago, I was looking for various pieces of advice, for what kind of support would be available to me, as my hearing deteriorated and I needed more than just my hearing aids to function, in meetings particularly. I went to the Canadian Hearing Society and I asked them for advice. What would I do in these kinds of environments where I work, which is a lot of meetings, office work, and I described the way my requirements were and they were able to give me really, really fantastic advice. And I’ve discovered, over the years, that there are financial supports in place in the public service like the Centralized (Workplace) Accommodation Fund and dedicated HR staff who can work with staff to determine what is the best accommodation tool for them and help them receive it.
(4:05-4:40) Mae Johnson: So, the other thing I should mention, Yazmine, is I had a lot of support along the way from a small unit at Shared Services Canada and their name is AAACT, or at least we know them as AAACT (Accessibility, Accommodation and Adaptive Computer Technology). And those are the folks who work on accessible and adaptive communications technologies and they are the gurus. And so, they were very generous with their time and helped me identify what were the kinds of options that I could try out for communications technologies that would help.
(4:40 -4:49) Yazmine Laroche: And AAACT is one of those little known gems in the public service that are there just to help. So thank you for pointing that out.
(4:49-4:50) Mae Johnson: Yes.
(4:50-4:51) Yazmine Laroche: Thank you, Mae!
(4:51-4:52) Mae Johnson: You’re welcome!
(4:52-4:58) Screen Description: The screen reads: My Accessible GC (English) followed by Mon GC Accessible (French). On the right-hand side of the text, there is a circular logo of three stick figures, colored pink, blue and green with a black maple leaf in the centre. Surrounding the text are images of persons with physical and invisible disabilities. The images are gradient-coloured following the pink, blue and green colour scheme, which is associated with accessibility initiatives in the federal public service.