Photo: ThisisEngineering RAEng / Unsplash
It would be nice to think that after decades of perseverance, diversity and workplace inclusion have become natural parts of modern society. However, there’s still a long way to go for that to truly be the case. Are you looking to create a better work environment for candidates, employees, or customers with disabilities? Are you hoping to be more aware of how you might help society to be better in general for those whose abilities and limitations differ from your own?
To help, here are five ideas that could make society more inclusive for people with disabilities:
- Start from the Beginning
From the word go, kids going into education with a disability should be able to thrive in a regular classroom environment where possible. We can make adjustments like the following to create more inclusive learning environments:
- Encouraging multiple forms of communication from both teachers and kids;
- Allowing both peer assistance and teacher assistance when kids need help;
- Furniture arrangement that enables better access for children who are in a wheelchair or who use a walking aid;
- Appropriate feeling aids and navigation tools for pupils with vision impairment;
- Providing class notes in multiple formats online for enhanced learning access beyond the classroom.
- Make Accessibility Standard
It’s time for separate disabled entrances to be a thing of the past. Buildings (especially new ones) and open spaces that are to have public access need to be designed with accessibility in mind.
This means boardwalks that are wide enough and flat enough for everybody to use, signs that automatically have braille and talking buttons on them, wide entrances and exits, and other intelligent design features. By incorporating these into every design, we can begin to make our public areas accessible to all.
- Be Open to Employer Flexibility
As an employer, you may want to employ a candidate with a disability while also feeling worried that their presence may necessitate expensive adaptations and changes in the workplace. There also remains an outdated opinion that people with disabilities are unable to be as productive or independent as other employees. This is reflected in the fact that unemployment and underemployment rates tend to be higher among disabled people.
The fact is that if you can prevent stereotyping and actively engage with disabled candidates about their needs, you’ll be able to understand their individual requirements better. In many cases, adaptations are free for you to access. Even if not, the cost will be a worthwhile investment in your brand inclusivity and in talented candidates who need such adaptations to thrive in your company.
- Recognize Ableism
Ableism occurs when people with disabilities are discriminated against based on the belief that the abilities of non-disabled people make them superior. Recognizing ableism is important across the board as it will allow people to become better allies and actively start to make the changes necessary to form a more inclusive society.
- See People with Disabilities as Valuable Consumers
There is an incorrect niche applied to disabled people, as though the majority of products and services somehow do not apply to them. However, people with disabilities are unique individuals who span across all age groups, races, genders, and micro-cultures worldwide. Financially, they represent a $1 billion dollar market segment in America alone. By recognizing people with disabilities as valuable customers, everybody benefits.
It’s up to all of us to make these changes. What will you do next to contribute to a more inclusive society?