Margaux Wosk wants more to be done for self-employed persons with disabilities (photo: Margaux Wosk)
By Margaux Wosk
September 22nd, 2001
Margaux Wosk wants people to rethink Disability Employment Awareness Month and the issue of inclusive employment.
September is Disability Employment Month. This is a time that aims to celebrate companies for hiring disabled people.
I commend these businesses for taking the time to get tax credits and financial kickbacks from the government to be able to create environments where disabled people are accommodated and are able to thrive.
However, there is a subsection of disabled individuals who are often left out of the narrative:
Those who are self-employed.
I am one of those people.
My name is Margaux Wosk and I am an Autistic small business owner on Etsy.
The resources for anyone in my position or those who dream of working for themselves are very limited. The singular program that does exist caters to those who need help every step of the way; however, they are encouraged to take on debt.
Taking on debt when you are already vulnerable and on financial assistance - while large organizations get money handed to them, is inequality that needs to come to the forefront.
Some of Margaux's creations
Did you know that there is not a SINGLE GRANT available for anyone in British Columbia who is disabled and hoping to work for themselves?
The grants that are available aren’t so obvious: for instance, I was able to get grants through the BC Arts Council and my municipality on the basis of art.
If I didn’t think outside the box, I wouldn’t have been able to fund my first design and product; Neurodiversity Pride Enamel Pins. It’s only because of that initial funding that I was able to start up and reinvest.
I want to be able to help those who want to start their own business. I have a group on Facebook called the Made by Autistics Marketplace to give fellow Autistic people the ability to sell their goods and interact with others who do the same.
Things need to change:
We need to be able to have the same transformative impact as those who are in the position of wealth and power who are not disabled.
We need a disabled small business/self-employed grant
We need an organization for British Columbia's disabled small business owners
The problem is that the current conversation about disability and employment focuses on those who hire us. They get put on a pedestal and talk about us like we are a commodity to be traded or to be utilized to create better profit margins.
The current conversation about disability and employment focuses on those who hire us.....They get put on a pedestal and talk about us like we are a commodity
Oftentimes, we are alone in this. I have had to learn everything myself because the information out there is not easy to understand and hard to find.
For instance: Did you know that if you are on PWD and have your own business that there is a program called the Self-Employment Program, or SEP?
This program was hard to find and even the information I was given was incorrect. Having this available but hard to access is not okay. I was told that there’s only around 500 people who are part of it.
If organizations (like Accessible Employers) are able to have the clout to be able to attend government meetings to talk about disability and employment, where are the disabled people talking about it? Why do we not have a place at the table?
I want to be able to share what I have learned and what I am achieving with others so I can be part of their success.
Part of what I do is showing people what Autistic folks are capable of and smashing down barriers. It’s not easy to do that when neurotypical, able bodied people are getting all the attention and accolades.
Make it make sense: Make it equal.
Spencer van Vloten is the editor of BC Disability. To get in touch, send an email to email@example.com!