A Call to Increase Disability Awareness & Advocacy

Do you ignore 1 out of 4 of your family members? Maybe that’s the wrong question. Do you ignore 1 out of 4 of your friends? Much better. But all joking aside, there is a big reality facing a quarter of us all. In population terms, that’s over 2 billion people. 

The Hard Truth

What exactly is that reality? Simple, 1 in 4 of us will develop some form of disability during our lifetimes. Yet, despite being the largest marginalized group in our country, disability is often excluded from the conversation surrounding DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) due to its complexity. 

From a young age, we are conditioned to prioritize the "able" body above all else, deeply ingrained in our beliefs about disability. Although this unconscious bias often goes unnoticed, its impact can be profound, limiting professional opportunities, growth, and advancement for individuals with disabilities compared to their peers. 

Recognizing and addressing these ingrained perceptions, however, can pave the way for increased disability awareness, which is essential to fostering a truly inclusive society that values the contributions and potential of every individual, regardless of their abilities.

The “Other” as a Brother

To achieve full inclusion, we need to truly believe in each other’s potential — and seeing the “other” as a brother. That means, valuing differences, embracing the concept of "seeing the person first", and engaging in honest discussions about disability creates a path forward that benefits everyone involved. 

By cultivating an environment of openness and understanding, we can shape workplaces that celebrate diversity and ensure that every individual's abilities and contributions are acknowledged and important.

A Path Forward: Are You Aware?

Disability awareness has the potential to drive positive societal changes, leading to greater support for disability rights and increased accessibility for individuals with disabilities, not just in the workplace but also in all aspects of life.

Foster Empathy & Understanding

Disability awareness cultivates empathy by enabling individuals to put themselves in the shoes of those with disabilities. When we develop a deeper understanding of the challenges and experiences of others, we can easily nurture compassion and respect, and embrace diversity.

Combat Stigma & Discrimination

Oftentimes, negative attitudes and beliefs perpetuate exclusion, especially for people who are part of the disabled community. By addressing and challenging these perceptions though, we can create an environment that treats individuals with disabilities as equal members and affirms their dignity and worth.

Promote Inclusion in the Workplace

Promoting inclusion in the workplace is a win-win scenario, promoting a thriving and harmonious environment that benefits both employees with disabilities and employers alike. For people with disabilities, inclusion creates a sense of belonging, empowerment, increased job satisfaction, and a chance to thrive in their careers. 

It’s all about equal opportunities to showcase skills and expertise. With expertise comes self-confidence, leading to higher productivity and engagement. For employers, inclusion translates to a more diverse and skilled workforce, resulting in improved innovation, better decision-making, a positive reputation and numerous other business benefits. 

Image Source: Association For Talent Development

Enhance Community Engagement

With increased disability awareness comes a greater sense of community engagement, encouraging individuals to actively participate in advocating for the rights and needs of people with disabilities. As a result of valuing diversity and advocating for accessibility, community engagement becomes more comprehensive, representing the voices and experiences of all individuals, including those with disabilities. 

Disability awareness not only strengthens the sense of unity and belonging within the community, but leads to a more vibrant and cohesive social fabric that benefits everyone involved.

Fine, Now You Know. Take the Next Step.

Action #1: Provide Disability Awareness Training

Through targeted and structured training programs, participants gain a comprehensive understanding of various disabilities, the challenges faced by individuals with disabilities, and the importance of creating inclusive environments. Training sessions often incorporate real-life scenarios and interactive activities that encourage participants to view disability through an inclusive lens. 

By equipping individuals with knowledge, tools, and communication skills, disability awareness training helps break down stereotypes, dispel misconceptions, and promote respectful interactions with people with disabilities. With a deeper understanding of the diverse abilities and talents of individuals with disabilities, participants can become advocates for change, driving a positive shift in attitudes and behaviors towards greater acceptance and inclusion in both professional and personal settings.

Action #2: Organize Disability Awareness Campaigns

Launch disability awareness campaigns to educate and inform people in your organization, as well as the public, about the experiences and achievements of people with disabilities. Utilize social media, virtual events, and community gatherings to share personal stories, insights, and positive examples of disability inclusion in the workforce. By leveraging the power of storytelling, we can expose misconceptions, break down barriers, and begin raising more awareness. 

Action #3: Advocate for Policy Changes

Get to know your local and federal lawmakers and encourage legislation that promotes disability rights and equal employment opportunities. By raising awareness about these policy issues, we can mobilize public support for meaningful change that benefits individuals with disabilities in the workforce.

Action #4: Partner with Disability Advocacy Organizations

Collaborating with disability advocacy organizations can amplify the impact of your accessibility initiatives. Advocacy organizations possess expertise, resources, and networks that can be instrumental in planning educational workshops, webinars, and awareness-building programs. By teaming up with them, we can tap into their valuable insights and experiences to create more effective disability awareness campaigns.

Action #5: Host Educational Workshops

Workplaces can organize workshops that cover topics such as disability rights, creating inclusive environments, and the benefits of diverse workplaces. Providing educational opportunities empowers individuals with the knowledge and skills needed to champion inclusivity in work environments and beyond. 

Action #6: Encourage Self-Advocacy

Provide self-advocacy opportunities that allow individuals with disabilities to share their stories, challenges, and aspirations, while fostering a stronger sense of empowerment and unity within the disability community. Self-advocacy enables individuals with disabilities to become powerful agents of change, and inspires others, namely their peers, colleagues, and the wider community, to also support disability inclusion.

Action #7: Adopt a Person-First Language

Person-first language emphasizes placing the person before their disability, recognizing their humanity and individuality beyond their disabilities. By using phrases such as "person with a disability" instead of "disabled person," we affirm that disability is just one aspect of a person's identity. 

Person-first language also challenges negative stereotypes and biases that may be associated with certain disabilities, encouraging people to see the person first and their disability as only one part of who they are. 

Video Source: YouTube

Action #8: Recognize that Some Disabilities Are Invisible

Many disabilities, such as chronic pain, mental health conditions, and certain neurological disorders, may not be immediately apparent to others. But that doesn’t mean that they are any less significant than disabilities that are easy to spot. When we acknowledge invisible disabilities, we become a more compassionate and accepting society.

Action #9: Normalize the Use of Assistive Technology Tools

Individuals with different disabilities have different needs, and will often require different accommodations. Assistive technology provides innovative solutions that cater to these diverse needs, helping them overcome barriers and access opportunities that were previously out of reach. 

By incorporating assistive technology, organizations can amplify disability awareness; It’s a practical solution that facilitates open communication and collaboration, making it easier for coworkers to engage with and understand the needs and preferences of their colleagues with disabilities. As assistive technology becomes a regular part of the workplace, it sparks curiosity and interest among coworkers, making them more inclined to ask questions, seek understanding, and engage in discussions about the specific needs and challenges that different assistive technologies address.

Video Source: YouTube

Ava's Captioning Solution: An Effective Tool to Increase Disability Awareness & Promote Inclusivity

With Ava, people with disabilities can seamlessly access real-time captions in various settings, from workplaces to social gatherings, online platforms, and beyond. Using Ava's innovative technology, organizations can take a proactive approach to accessibility to provide equal opportunities and accommodations not only for Deaf and hard-of-hearing people, but for people with varying disabilities. 

By giving employees the opportunity to experience the impact of Ava's captioning solution, businesses can promote communication and engagement and ultimately create a ripple effect that leads to a more disability-aware and inclusive society.

Making a Commitment

Disability awareness is not an isolated endeavor but a collective commitment to creating a society that values the diverse abilities and strengths of all its members. Increasing both awareness and advocacy efforts is a powerful tool that promotes empathy, inclusivity, and equality. 

Make a commitment to creating a more inclusive and compassionate society for all. And join Ava to collectively work towards a world where diversity is celebrated, and individuals with disabilities are empowered to thrive.