July 26, 2022 is the 32nd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including employment. While this law is a major civil rights accomplishment, prohibiting discrimination is still a far cry from embracing inclusion, and we have a long way to go on the latter in the workplace.
Your company may have a non-discrimination policy, but are you welcoming potential employees who are disabled or differently-abled? How accessible is your website, for example, to someone who is blind? How easy is it for someone with a physical disability, even temporary, to get to your office and perform expected tasks, including travel? Are you proactively soliciting input on how to make daily tasks more inclusive?
It is important to remember that not all disabilities or different-abilities are visible.
An employee may be hard of hearing, have a learning difference, be sensory sensitive or have PTSD. They also may be afraid to discuss their needs out of fear of being judged as less than and/or being held back from career opportunities.
As with any other dimension of diversity, you need to be proactive in gathering information to get the right support in place for everyone to perform at their best. Do your research, ask for input, educate your teams and gather feedback on what you try. And most importantly, don’t assume that just because an employee hasn’t mentioned a need that there isn’t one there.
For more information about the ADA, including links to training resources, please visit adaanniversary.org
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