Disability Inclusion: What We Can Do Now!

Today, December 3, 2022, is International Day of Persons with Disabilities, a day dedicated to celebrating the social, economic, and cultural contributions of people with disabilities. Sometimes, when people think of or imagine an individual with disabilities, they don't think of the hidden disabilities some individuals possess. We all need to recognize and support those with visible and invisible disabilities. How can we ensure that those with hidden disabilities are not left behind?

Here are 7 ways to help:

1. Educate yourself (and, if you're a Leader, your staff) on what constitutes a disability and how it affects people differently. Studies have shown that having an inclusive environment starts with a better understanding of the varying types of disabilities and how they can affect people. 2. Make sure your workspace is disability-friendly by providing adequate resources to support them. It's essential to make sure your workplace has accessible technology that accommodates those with disabilities, as well as the necessary support services. 3. Offer your employees with visible and invisible disabilities flexible work hours and policies tailored to their needs. Flexible work hours can help accommodate the physical needs of individuals with disabilities and allow them to take necessary breaks to manage their mental health. 4. Promote an inclusive workplace culture by offering flexible working hours, home-based office arrangements, and accessible technologies so everyone can contribute regardless of ability or disability. According to a study by Gartner, companies with an inclusive culture tend to have higher morale and are more productive than those without an inclusive workplace. 5. Provide training to your workforce on the challenges disabled employees may face and how they can be supported in their roles. Training your staff on the challenges of disability and how to support those with different abilities can go a long way toward creating an inclusive environment. 6. Support the development of an employee resource group focused on disability inclusion and awareness, such as a Disability Employee Network Group or DESIGN. These initiatives can help create an open environment for dialogue and understanding and provide an opportunity to foster strong relationships between employees with disabilities and their colleagues. 7. Use accessible technologies to ensure all employees can access the same information, regardless of ability or disability. This can include using screen readers, text-to-speech options, and other technologies to ensure everyone has the same access. As we think about the future of work, we must consider how everyone is included. We must ensure we work daily to create a supportive and inclusive environment. Now that you know some of the ways we can support those with hidden disabilities, what are you or your company doing to ensure that all employees, regardless of ability or disability, are supported? What measures can we take to ensure those with hidden disabilities are not left behind? Check out the two bonus tips below and share your thoughts in the comments using the hashtag: #InclusionForAll.