According to the CDC, 1 in 4 people in the United States have (or will have) a disability by the time they reach adulthood. Yet, when it comes to being contributors at work, one of the major challenges people with disabilities face isn’t their ability to perform. Instead, it’s other people’s lack of knowledge that stands in the way. Incorrect assumptions can lead not only to discomfort and misunderstanding, but to preventable mistakes, shortsighted innovation, and the exclusion of great ideas.
This weekend marks the 31st anniversary of National Disability Independence Day (July 26th)—the day the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law. This legislation was a significant step towards removing many of the barriers preventing some individuals from contributing their ideas, abilities, and talents to the world at large.
While we have known for a long time that “WOW” solutions take thinkers of all kinds, we are continually learning just how much untapped potential and possibility is still to be found both within our organization and outside our bubbles of familiarity. One of our Thinkers recently completed an online certification course through SHRM entitled, “Employing Abilities@Work.” She shared some of her learnings with our team and we thought we’d pass them along to you.
Her biggest takeaway from the course is that people with disabilities are first and foremost, people. Always focus on the person, not the disability. Sometimes a disability will be evident, or “visible,” and other times a disability can seem “invisible,” easy to miss. Both visible and invisible disabilities affect the way people approach their work. Knowing this has helped us identify some areas in which we can become ever-better collaborators with individuals who experience life differently from us.
Below are a few practical examples we’ve found helpful in growing our understanding and developing more effective collaboration skills. We hope they’ll help you, too.
TIPS FOR INTERACTING WITH OTHERS WITH DISABILITIES
Our team is always looking for ways to become more effective collaborators and catalysts of positive change. When it comes to the work we do with our clients, these pursuits are no exception. Our work, inside and out, revolves around identifying knowledge gaps and how to fill those. We invite you to lean in with us, to embrace this opportunity to grow with humility, to become better collaborators and cohorts, and to support our whole community more effectively.