Commenting on World Disability day, Bradshaw LeRoux Owner and Disability Integration Expert, and Get-U-Noticed client, Lesa Bradshaw, who has been a wheelchair user since she was born said “The 3rd December has been designated as the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (PWD) since 1992, when the United Nations committed to furthering the rights of all people who are living with a disability. Each year, a theme is assigned which places focus on a different element of disability inclusion.”
The theme for this year’s International Day of Persons with a Disability is “Achieving 17 Goals for the Future We Want”. This theme notes the recent adoption of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which aim to build a more inclusive and equitable world for persons with disabilities.
Many of these goals call for equal opportunities for PWD, including equal access to education, work, and lifestyle choices.
“So here’s the thing that we need to remember” Says Bradshaw. “supporting the International Day of Persons with a Disability is so much more than supporting a charity which represents people with a disability, but is also very much about taking progressive steps to include disability as part of our inclusivity and diversity rich workplace cultures!
Want some ideas on how to support it? Here are some of Lesa’s tips.
Is your company keen to do something to support this form of diversity? How about creating awareness around the barriers which PWD may face in your organisation? Here are some ideas:
• “Take a disability to work for an hour”
• “Spot the barrier … find the solution” team challenges
• “Wear the label – see the stereotype!”
These are just some initiatives that Bradshaw LeRoux have developed to give employees a glimpse into some of the workplace barriers that may exist in their departments or roles. The aim of these initiatives is to drive home the concept of Reasonable Accommodation – to unpack what it means, and show how it levels the playing field for equal opportunities at work. The aim is also to make us challenge our stereotypes around disability. As a society, we tend to set our benchmark of expectations very low when it comes to PWDs, which leads to all sorts of disempowering implications.
We have to stop whispering “disability” in the workplace – it is just diversity! Often we are so concerned about offending, that we find ourselves immobilised by this fear rather than getting on with our inclusivity efforts in the workplace. This is just one of the reasons why, according to the Department of Labour Roadshow 2016, South African businesses are not much closer to achieving the very achievable set target of 2 % representation of PWD in our organisations (as set by the Dept of Labour’s Employment Equity Act)! Over 20 years into our diversity embracing democracy – and we are no closer to normalising disability as just another form of diversity in the workplace.
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