A massive, positive byproduct was born from the pandemic which allowed the world to be accommodating and understanding of people and their lived experiences – including the disability community. As the world continues to slowly open up from the COVID-19 vaccination and return back to “normal,” we need to be mindful of the disability community because the traditional, normal way of doing things was not always the most inclusive option for people.
The work-from-home model not only was a productive solution to the COVID-19 shutdown, but it proved companies can be effective and influential without everyone being in the office. This was also an inclusive, empowered solution for many who made sacrifices for their job like people with disabilities, caretakers, and parents. The pandemic shifted the world in ways we never thought could be possible.
We need to keep being open-minded if we want things to move along further in a positive and progressive way. Depending on the work someone is doing, they should be given the option to work from home, unless their job depends on their in-person presence. This will continue a workplace culture that is inclusive and accommodating.
Here is a list of things employers can do to ensure they are being inclusive and accommodating:
- Do your internal policies include people with disabilities?
- Is disability a priority in your Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiatives?
- Do you have a disability employee resource group?
- Are you recognizing people with disabilities on Disability Pride Month in July or National Disability Employment Awareness Month in October?
- Do your employees feel comfortable sharing that they have a disability? Have you created that space for them to Self-Identify?
- Do you offer inclusive training for people with disabilities?
- Do you offer assistive and accessible technology for your employees?
- Are you marketing to consumers with disabilities?
- Are your external products accessible for people with disabilities?
- Has your company been reviewed by a disability consultant?
- What does your recruitment process look like? Does it use language that will inhibit people with disabilities to apply?
As things return to normal, people with disabilities cannot be left out of the picture again like they were before. We need to be constantly engaging, recruiting, and including people with disabilities to ensure the workplace is inclusive, dynamic, and diverse.
A young woman wearing glasses, a white shirt, and gray sweatpants sits on a red fuzzy carpet on her floor with her back against her white couch as she works comfortably from home. She is typing on her lap top.
This post was written by Accessible Festivals’ intern Zane Landin. Zane is a Communication (Public Relations) student at Cal Poly Pomona with a passion for mental health access, disability rights, and diversity and inclusion.