Observed in October, National Disability Employment Awareness Month brings awareness to the plight of those with disabilities and urges employers to help ensure equality in the workplace. For those with disabilities, access ramps and other aids to mobility are a great help in the workplace. However, these are just the basic amenities which modern buildings must have.
Disabilities happen, whether due to birth, illness or accidents. No matter the cause of the disability, many people with them face challenges in the workplace. They may feel that there is a bias against them because of the perception that they are not mobile or are otherwise physically challenged, when most times they are completely capable. Some disabilities are not even evident and do not affect the performance of common tasks.
Administrative measures can be implemented to better serve the disabled. IBM is a great example. The company created a budget to purchase assistive technologies and ergonomic appliances and furniture. This established budget helped ensure that there was no attempt to minimize special spending to assist employees with disabilities, equaling the opportunities within the company for disabled employees.
IBM, as well as other companies, have even adopted help desks to assist disabled workers. These specialized help desks allow for the streamlined processing of disability claims or work-related injuries. It can also help workers request the purchase of certain items to aid with their disability. The requests can then be vetted through a streamlined process rather than getting bogged down in a long, bureaucratic maze.
These processes help ensure that employees with disabilities feel valued and respected. In the end, everyone is at risk of injuries and disabilities. Most of us will be impacted by a disability at some point, directly or indirectly. Employers can and should treat those with disabilities in the same way they would like to be treated if they were in a similar position. As equals.