Ableism is defined as “discrimination in favor of people with disabilities”. According to the US Census Bureau, 54 million Americans have a disability, and people with severe disabilities who work full-time earn approximately $ 1,000 less per month than non-disabled workers. Meanwhile, 13.3 million people with disabilities between the ages of 16 and 64 have difficulties at all in finding employment because of their disability. Because of this, there is an unemployment rate of 70% among them.
The willful or unintentional discrimination or oppression of people with disabilities has no place in the workforce. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is tasked with overseeing disability discrimination in the workplace as well as complaints of employment discrimination on all issues – race, color, gender, age, religion, retaliation, equal pay, genetic information, and national Origin. The EEOC announced that the disability bias charge has fallen from an all-time high of 28,073 in the previous year to 26,838 in 2017. This is progress, but it is still a significant number. In 2017, 31.9% of the total of 84,254 charges alleged discrimination on the basis of a disability. Of these disability-related cases, 5,540 were resolved in favor of the person who filed the complaint and the agency secured them US $ 135.2 million in cash benefits.
It doesn’t always work that way, however, and companies are usually better at dealing with employees with disabilities. In fact, employers with 14 or fewer employees, as well as all government employers, are exempt from federal restrictions against discrimination based on disability in employment. This means that these small employers can refuse to hire someone just because they are in a wheelchair.
“I was faced with skills in the workplace working for companies and with other people,” said Alison Carville, a sole practitioner with Carville Communication Consulting, and a woman who uses a wheelchair. “Such examples don’t allow me extra time to do specific tasks that are required for my job, or a notecard to help me remember certain processes during my professional training. I always had to ask employees in tall cupboards about certain things and make sure that my wheelchair wasn’t in the way “of them”. “
She has also experienced and witnessed the autonomy of her own / others, she says.
“People cut themselves in front of me when I was trying to do a task, and it often results in me and the other person getting physically injured,” she explains. “They just wanted to help, but since we weren’t communicating, neither of us knew what the other was doing.”
Carville says she actually feels privileged that people can at least see her disability. By now, 88% of the disabilities affecting humanity today are not visible – the average person would not know that a person with a disability was in the office. Because of this, she says a lot of people think of just building a ramp on a building with steps to fix the loss of ability, but they forget about braille, guide dogs / assistance dogs, ergonomic workspaces, easy to-grip tools, subtitles, notes , Lecture recording devices and all the other ways companies can improve their workspaces and make them more accessible to people with disabilities.
“Words are important,” she adds. “Using words like” see, stand, run “etc. may not have anything to do with an action, but people can say things like” advocate “or” participate in a race / election “etc. instead.”
And if you talk about communication and always ask about the “sob story” about how to get handicapped, that is inappropriate, she advises.
“Most people were born with their disabilities and we know that. So there weren’t any major adjustments in life, except in inaccessible environments, ”she explains. “There is not always a sob story that one can tell a capable person to feel sorry for us from that moment on.”
In essence, skill awareness doesn’t just mean not hiring someone for their disability. It also means ignoring your own disability, disregarding someone for their disability, and making assumptions about your own disability. Only when we stop defining people with disabilities as “disabled people” instead of referring to them as “people with disabilities”, and when we start taking the necessary precautions so that they can exercise their responsibilities (because they can, when you make the above “corrections”). ) all employees are treated with the same respect.
This article first appeared on Fairygodboss.