In recent times, the fact that according to the World Bank, a billion people, or about 15% of the world’s population, experience some form of disability; physical or mental has triggered the channeling of more efforts in the global business world into promoting disability inclusion as a key part of their Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) compliance efforts and strategies.
A disability may be described as a form of handicap that could be either physical or mental. It may be a handicapped that has an effect on bodily functions such as affecting sight, hearing, speech, mobility, immune or respiratory system, etc. a person is said to be living with a disability where such handicap or impairment places a restriction on some major life endeavors in the person’s life.
Disabilities can be of a physical nature, such as an inability to walk due to amputation, or muscular or neurological dysfunction. A disability may also be of a sensory nature, such as blindness or deafness. It can also be cognitive as in the cases of brain damage or mental retardation, etc.
A person with a physical or mental disability refers to a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of such person’s major life activities, has a record of such impairment, or is deemed as having such impairment.
The clamor for the protection of persons living with disability from discrimination in employment, and work processes are in a bid to reduce the adverse socio-economic outcomes that persons living with disability are more likely to experience. The mostly negative outcomes include lack of or half education, poorer health outcomes, lower levels of employment, and higher poverty rates.
Employing persons living with disability should not be something done to tick off some DEI boxes in tokenism, rather it should be viewed and treated as a valuable opportunity with benefits. This is because employing disabled workers is capable of easing talent shortages in an organization. Also, it organically improves the company’s organizational diversity, which drives innovation and better decision-making.
Some of the ways in which a company can show inclusion in relation to persons living with a physical or mental disability include, the provision of assistive technology, accessible work environment, organizing of disability etiquette training programs, etc. People with disabilities need to feel welcome, included, and comfortable with their physical working space, and organizations need to take note of this in their DEI efforts.
In addition to the above, disability etiquette is key to the inclusion of persons living with disabilities as it seeks to promote respect for the person and feelings of disabled persons. It involves the use of ‘person first’ language that places personhood first during conversations relating to a person’s disability. The language is geared towards ensuring that people are rated above their obvious disability and not confined condescendingly into it.
It is also recommended as part of disability etiquette that any communication with persons with disability that suggests that they should be viewed with some sort of compassion due to a perceived limitation should be avoided.