Through the hard work of activists, organizations, and ordinary people fighting for change, the world is continually becoming a more accepting and inclusive place. From the Civil Rights Act to women’s rights, we’ve seen legislation’s lasting and powerful effects in creating a more equitable society.
On July 26, 1990, George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which broke down barriers for people living with disabilities in the United States. “Three weeks ago we celebrated our nation’s Independence Day. Today we’re here to rejoice in and celebrate another ‘Independence Day,’ one that is long overdue,” Bush pronounced upon signing the act into law. Finally, a law strictly prohibited discrimination based on a physical or intellectual and developmental disability (IDD). This act applies to every area of society and public life, whether it be jobs, schools, transportation, or any other place open to the general public.
Now, every July 26, we recognize National Disability Independence Day (also known as Americans with Disabilities Day) because individuals with disabilities deserve to be celebrated for the unique contributions they make to our societyw
Looking for Ways to Celebrate?
Although the ADA has fostered a more equitable workforce and society for people with disabilities, we still have a lot of work to do. A great way to commemorate National Disability Independence Day is by taking a look at your business’s practices to see if you are being as inclusive as possible.
Check out your company’s Diversity & Inclusion Statement
Is the wording and enforcement focused solely on complying with regulations, or is it taking an active role in creating an environment of true inclusion within your organization? The point of a D&I statement shouldn’t just be to follow the law. There is a reason behind the law– individuals with disabilities should feel welcome and included in your workplace.
Read through your job descriptions
Sometimes, the requirements on job applications go years without being updated and can be inaccurate. Does a software engineer really have to be able to lift 50 lbs? Probably not. Does a secretary actually have to be able to stand a full shift? That could definitely be worked around. Truly think about each requirement and how it would affect someone with a disability. More often than not there is a solution that will allow someone with a disability to get along just fine in the job.
Provide employee customer service training for clients with disabilities
“The customer is always right” still applies to customers with disabilities. All customers deserve to be treated equally and should be provided with the accommodations they need to smoothly engage with your business.
Whether your customer is deaf, blind, in a wheelchair, or is on the Autism Spectrum, they may require special accommodations or assistance. Do your employees know how to interact with customers that have disabilities? If not, make sure to give adequate employee training so that all your customers feel comfortable and welcome.
Ensure accessibility throughout your business
Simple measures can go a long way to helping folks with disabilities (both employees and customers) to better access your services. Make sure to always provide the option for closed captions and alt text on your website and social media. Check the physical accessibility of your storefronts, office spaces, and amenities. Allow for flexibility in work schedules.
Happy Americans with Disabilities Day!
Individuals with disabilities bring new perspectives and unique talents to the workforce. If you want to learn more about how Vertex Systems can deliver superior information management solutions to help unlock the potential of IDD organizations, contact us today.