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Disability Inclusion - A Burden or an Opportunity?

The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities defines those for whom it advocates as “people who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.”

The World Bank estimates that there are more than one billion people worldwide living with a disability. This means they not only represent a huge consumer base, but can ease talent shortages and add to the organizational diversity.

Disability is a form of diversity that is often misunderstood and consequently excluded from the workplace. Disability still does not receive enough recognition when it comes to DEI initiatives. Research shows only a few percent of companies claiming to prioritize diversity consider disability in their initiatives. I believe it all starts with raising awareness, creating a common ground and language for disability.

Isn’t it time to really listen to the voices of those living with disabilities, instead of discriminating and stereotyping them? It is beyond sad that autism is still widely viewed as a tragedy for families and that people with intellectual impairments are being ridiculed!

Disability may be visible (indicators could be assistive devices like a wheel chair or a communication language like American sign language) or non-visible (for example ADHD or sleep disorders), chronic or temporary. Disability may affect mobility, the capacity to learn and work, or the ability to communicate easily. They may require some form of adjustment in the workplace to help them overcome the impact of their disability.

Leaders can take plenty of steps to improve disability inclusion in:

➡️ Talent management

➡️ Workplace accessibility and facilities

➡️ The products and services being offered

Inclusive businesses have a broader customer base, are better in decision-making and in generating innovative ideas.

Here in the UAE, the very positive term ‘People of Determination’ is used, which goes towards removing the stigma attached to the term ‘disability’.

What does your organisation do to realize disability inclusion? Do you have any success stories to share?


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