Disability of a person usually means a physical or mental impairment that restricts his ability to participate in everyday activities that the society calls ‘normal’. Disability awareness as a skill refers to being mindful of the disabilities of people and managing to communicate and work with them effectively.

Therefore, it is not enough to realize that discriminating on the basis of disabilities is unlawful. As an employer or supervisor it is important that you have disability awareness yourself and that you also develop consciousness amongst your subordinates about differentiating good and poor practices when it comes to working with the disabled ones.

Why is disability awareness important

One cannot begin to understand how important its awareness is unless he knows how frequently people with disabilities are found nowadays. Approximately 49 million Americans, which means one out of every five Americans, have a certain form of disability. One out of every twelve (8%) Irish people also have a disability. Yet, our society is enriched with their valuable contributions as they continue to share their lives.

The largest barriers these disabled people encounter are other people because our societies have always been occupied with stereotypes and prejudice towards them. Pointing out, through disability awareness, such stereotypes and misconceptions about people with disabilities and then bringing about changes in behavior and attitude towards them is essential to enable all employees to work to their maximum potential.

The resulting improvement in productivity, creativity, and employee relations certainly catalyzes the organizational as well as the individual career growth.

How to improve disability awareness as a skill

Following are some useful tips to improve disability awareness such that the organization has a more harmonious and motivated workforce with maximum efficiency:

  • Understand that not everyone is the same. The first step towards improving disability awareness as a skill, in oneself or in others, is acceptance of the fact that every individual is unique. A culture of inclusion must be developed by showing understanding and respect towards individual differences. This will ultimately evolve into a harmonious work environment desired by every organization.
  • Dig deeper to understand better. If a worker or employee is suspected of a disability, carry out enquiries for more information on his health in order to get a deeper insight of his condition. This will help you determine his strengths and weaknesses as well as the suitable work environment according to his needs so that his efficiency can be maximized. However, this entire process must be confidential with the workers/employees reassured that the personal information obtained shall be shared, with their permission, only where required.
  • Avoid making assumptions. As an employer or manager, it is imperative that you avoid stereotyping impairments and making wrongful assumptions that could cloud your judgment about someone’s ability to perform well. For example, in denying a promotion to someone with a history of depression, you could be taking away from the firm one of its best future leaders.
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