Disability Inclusion - What we can do as an individual and as an Organization?
India is a diversified country wherein dimensions like race, age, gender, ethnicity, physical ability, sexual orientation, geographical location, income, personal habits, religion, educational background, appearance, marital status contributes towards diversity. Even-though when equality is ingrained so deeply in our constitution and democracy, unfortunately, biases and lack of awareness overweight the way we look towards persons with disabilities
Most of us might have encountered PWD at public places and as a colleague at the workplace. How many of us have studied with PWD or have a childhood friend with disabilities? Point is “that we live in a different world altogether” and from education to accessibility, nothing is integrated. I remember one of my friends saying that he used to visit a blind school during weekends and it is very difficult for him to accommodate himself even for a few minutes”. PWD as a family member does provide an opportunity for a family or extended family to recognize and mitigate the bias towards looking at disabilities. But unfortunately, we have had enough instances of discrimination by the family itself.
This disintegration limits our thoughts and rather than focusing upon the accessible society we end up sympathizing with disabilities and don’t even look to the person behind disabilities. Sometimes their disability is their identification which should not be the scenario with any human.
The question arises what we can do as an individual and as an Organization? I strongly believe that on an individual level sharing & learning can mitigate bias. Let’s share and discuss the examples of people with disabilities who are independent and employable among our friends, colleagues and especially with kids/younger generation. Let’s give credit to the digital era and assistive technologies which help PwD to work efficiently. As an organization does leverage this talent pool, partner with institutions to provide inclusive education, customers and external stakeholders to promote the cause of disability inclusion in larger society. Let’s accept that people’s mindset and unconscious biases are the biggest barriers to disability inclusion. Take time to train your employees on how they can give practical support to colleagues with disabilities – rather than merely show sympathy.
About the Author: Priyanka Sharma is a D&I Champion. If you have any queries w.r.t the article, you can reach Priyanka at firstname.lastname@example.org