Disability represents the largest minority in the world with 1 in 5 identifying globally, yet someone with a disability(s) are twice as likely to be unemployed than the average person. This number is quite jarring to read about because disability does not reflect capability in the slightest and often times someone's disability will have no effect on how well they are able to do their job. We should not be defining our employees by the challenges they may face before they’ve even set foot in the workplace, if that were how every worker was treated, there would be staggering amounts of missed opportunity on top of what is already being missed by not having an all-inclusive workplace.
Delaina Parrish discusses on TedTalks “Why Businesses Must Be Fearless With Disability Inclusion” which is the first step into creating a disability friendly establishment. Fear will oftentimes lead to avoidance and in this case, that avoidance will have a dramatic effect on other people’s lives. There is no need to fear disability in the workplace, in doing so you are fearing one billion people with unlimited potential and unique skillsets alongside the ability to learn and develop the same as any individual. Change to the modern mindset where inclusive thinking is normal for all companies, we need to be comfortable and happy to have these conversations especially when there is no need for them to be awkward. If you shy around the topic you may accidentally seem quite patronising, it is always better to be relaxed and open whilst remaining respectful.
Many people may look over one of the most important steps to having a disability friendly workplace, which is the recruitment process. This includes far more than simply stating that you are willing to adapt to suit a person's needs. Think firstly, is the job application accessible? Does the job description cover all essential criteria over things that would be preferred rather than needed? Do you have alternative methods of interviewing and accessible interviewing establishments?
Even though these factors may at first seem like small issues that hardly anyone would consider, the reality is that the majority of accessibility changes tend to be quite simple no matter how many you may need to consider implementing into your workplace. Lesa Bradshaw talks about why companies struggle in this area and provides useful insights into what can be done to open the doors to people with disabilities as well as briefly discussing the benefits of doing so which you may find quite surprising.
A large number of employers ignore the need for psychical adjustments due to it sounding like far too much hassle, but stressing yet again that the adjustments tend to be incredibly simple and may also have more benefits than you realise. For example, wheelchair access is a well known physical adjustment that many workplaces have begun to provide, it may seem like a lot of work, but consider the fact you are also then benefitting any parent(s) pushing a pram/stroller as well as allowing large parcels to be delivered using an appliance trolley. Already from one psychical adjustment, there are many more benefits although they may not be common occurrences, they still happen.
People with disabilities improve workplace morale and bring greater diversity into your establishment. Not only this but they greatly elevate customer service for a multitude of reasons such as better understanding towards customers who may also suffer from a disability. Alongside all of this, they help increase business opportunities by offering new perspectives or ideas and in some cases bringing a new audience to the company. It is all about the ability people have, no matter their gender, race, sexuality, or disability(s).
Someone with a disability, whether it is visible or invisible, may face physical and/or mental barriers every day, be mindful not to become a barrier yourself with the attitude you have towards accessibility and inclusivity in employment. For further advice on an inclusive workplace, go Here to visit acas where you will find multiple resources discussing disability at work.
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