Understanding Disabilities

According to the website Think Beyond the Label, employees who have a disability provide a greater return on investment, give your company a marketing edge, and facilitate innovation in both products and the workplace. All employees desire to feel valued and appreciated within their organization, which cultivates a positive and enriching atmostphere in the workplace. Studies show a positive workspace can greatly impact the clients response to the organization and foster return business. Attracting and retaining employees with disabilities, however, requires adherence to some best practices, including but not limited to the following:

  • Accommodations
  • Person-first language
  • Assistive technology


 (Adapted from the U.S. Department of Labor)

Employees need the right tools and work environment to effectively perform their jobs. Similarly, individuals with disabilities may need workplace adjustments—or accommodations—to maximize the value they bring to their employer. An accommodation can be something as simple as putting blocks under table legs so that a person who uses a wheelchair can roll up to it. Another accommodation might involve advanced technology, such as installing a screen reader on a computer so that a person who is blind can manage documents. It may be procedural, such as altering a work schedule or job assignments. When thinking about accommodations, the employer should focus on essential job tasks and the physical functions necessary to complete them, not on the person's disability. Learn more . . .

Person-first language

One of the easiest and most affordable ways of fostering an atmosphere of inclusion in the workplace is to use so-called “person-first” language when communicating with or about people with disabilities. Person-first language demonstrates respect and acceptance of people with disabilities by recognizing them first as individuals instead of merely a label. For example, instead of describing someone as “mentally retarded,” you could more appropriately describe him or her as “a person with a cognitive disability.”  Learn more . . .

Assistive technology

Assistive technology (AT) is often defined as any assistive, adaptive, and rehabilitative devices for people with disabilities. This broad definition encompasses everything from “low-tech” curb cuts in the sidewalk at street crossings, to an iPhone app that improves hand-eye coordination. Utilizing assistive technology in the workplace can enable a person with a disability to complete tasks that he or she otherwise could not complete without the technology. For example, a person with poor eyesight can employ special settings to make type on her computer monitor legible.

The world of AT is vast and growing every day. To learn more, visit the INDATA website.