Essay written by Diane Driedger for the Council of Canadians with Disabilities

Years ago, a colleague and I were discussing equality and what it meant for people with disabilities.  She said that as people with disabilities, we do things differently, but we can still be equal.  And in our society, different is generally seen as bad, not equal.  This has resonated with me since then as I have worked towards accommodations in my working life.  Different but equal, sums up my journey — particularly looks different, but equal.

Our society is still caught in the Protestant work ethic of hard work that one does in front of others.  For example, if you sit in your chair at the office for eight hours, you are seen to be doing your job.  However, if you do the same amount of work, but it is done at home, or done lying on the futon in one’s office, that isn’t work — it looks different.

For me to work to my full potential as a person with fibromyalgia and a cancer survivor, I work mornings as the Manitoba League of Persons with Disabilities (MLPD) Provincial Coordinator at home.  This allows me to use my morning energy when I am the freshest to work on paperwork rather than to waste it taking transit to my workplace.  I work afternoons in the MLPD office.  Both my home and MLPD offices are equipped with a couch, so that I may rest throughout the day and also work lying down.  These accommodations enable me to maximize my ability to work with the limited energy and the level of pain that I have.