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What is disability?
Disability is…
● Normal
● Visible and invisible
● Unique
● Something that affects us all
● A protected class
● Cultural
What disability is not.
Disability is not…
● Inability
● A derogatory term
● A person’s total existence
● Automatically indicative of intellect or intellectual
capacity
● A reason for pity
How the Americans with Disabilities Act
(ADA) defines disability.
“A person who has a physical or mental impairment that
substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person
who has a history or record of such an impairment, or a
person who is perceived by others as having such an
impairment.”
But people within the Disability Community
define themselves through a very rich
CULTURE
The Disability Awareness Flag displays:
-Red: Physical
-Gold: Neurodivergency
-White: Invisible/Undiagnosed
-Blue: Emotional/Psychiatric
-Green: Sensory
-Black: Unseen/Unheard
”Alll those who have lost
their lives due to ableism,
violence, negligence,
suicide, illness, and
eugenics.”
Disability Culture consists of many of the same things
all cultures do:
● History
● Philosophy
● Literature
● Art
● Social gatherings
● Social/Political
leadership
● Icons/Heroes
● Norms & mores
● Language
● Protocol
● Social/Political platforms
1. The ability to have self-awareness of one’s
own culture, while being able to respond
effectively to another person's cultural
differences and needs.
2. A cornerstone of DEI and a key component of
Accessibility
Cultural & Linguistic Competency
Accessibility is the foundation of cultural &
linguistic competency within the disability
community.
An employer cannot think of itself as inclusive of people
with disabilities if they do not care to understand its’
culture, and adapt its’ own company culture to include
those with disabilities through Accessibility.
So, what is accessibility?
Ensuring that those with disabilities have
access to the same opportunities and
services that those without disabilities
have, AND that they have this access
WITHOUT discrimation.
“Accomodation “without discrimination” is the key!
To accommodate means to:
● Fit in with the needs or wishes of;
● Provide sufficient space for; or
● Adapt to another person's needs.
In many ways we happily, and without discrimination, accomodate:
● Families;
● Significant others;
● Friends; and
● VIPs
Accomodation is great, but accessibility is better!
Accomodation is
REACTIVE, and seeks to
make adaptive changes
after the fact.
Ex. Allowing an
overstimulated colleague to
leave the office for better
productivity.
Accessibility is
PROACTIVE, and seeks to
design or create with people
with disabilities in mind.
Ex. Including a “Quiet
Room” in your initial office
design layout.
Why should employers champion accessibility?
A report from the Job Accommodation Network (JAN)
shows that:
● 89% of employers that included accessibility within their
overall talent strategy experienced an increase in
employee retention;
● 72% saw an increase in employee productivity; and
● 46% saw an increase in employee safety.
The Obligation vs the Desire to Include
Obligation
● Adhering to federal ADA
guidelines;
● Providing a reasonable
accommodation when
requested; and
● Creating a clear Company
Accommodations Policy
Desire
● Educating your staff on
Disability Culture from the top
down;
● Infusing accessibility
considerations into every facet
of company operations; and
● Intentionally adding
Accessibility to your DEI
initiatives.
What is considered a
reasonable accommodation
per the ADA guidelines?
Reasonable accommodation is defined as:
“Any change or adjustment to a job or work
environment that permits a qualified applicant or
employee with a disability to participate in the job
application process, to perform the essential
functions of a job, or to enjoy benefits and privileges
of employment equal to those enjoyed by employees
without disabilities.”
Examples include:
● acquiring or modifying equipment or devices;
● job restructuring;
● part-time or modified work schedules;
● reassignment to a vacant position;
● adjusting or modifying examinations, training materials or policies,
● providing readers and interpreters; and
● making the workplace readily accessible to and usable by people with
disabilities.
The ADA further states that:
“It is a violation of the ADA to fail to provide reasonable
accommodation to the known physical or mental
limitations of a qualified individual with a disability,
unless to do so would impose an undue hardship on the
operation of your business. Undue hardship means that
the accommodation would require significant difficulty
or expense.”
Employer’s need to know:
1. What constitutes undue
hardship?
2. Who has the burden of
determining undue hardship?
The employer must determine undue hardship
The Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM)
recommends using the following criteria to determine undue hardship:
● The location of the company(ex. in-person vs. remote);
● The industry classification and safety (manufacturing; tech;
media);
● The nature and cost of the accommodation needed;
● If the execution of the accommodation would severely impact
company operations; and
● The overall financial resources & number of people employed.
Two things every employer should know
about employing people with disabilities:
1. There is no inclusion without intention.
2. *Your entire staff should be involved,
whenever possible!
*People seeking accommodations have a right to as much privacy as
possible.
How do we start to become intentional about
accessibility inclusion in the workplace?
We first empower one another by learning six basic
rules of respectful communication and interaction
when addressing people with disabilities.
1. Avoid making assumptions
about people with disabilities.
If you have a question specific to them, pull the person to
the side and ask them if they would mind answering
appropriate questions to gain a better understanding of
what they might need.
2. BUT do not assume it’s
their job to educate everyone.
Just because a person has a disability, it doesn’t make
them an expert on all things disability related. Their job
description should not include having to train other
employees on the topic of disability. This is why
company-wide training and educational resources are so
important.
3. Don’t ever “out” a person’s
disability or disability status.
Some disabilities are invisible or unknown/undiagnosed,
and no one is required to disclose their disability or
disability status. If they have chosen to disclose their
disability to HR or their supervisor, it’s the employer’s job
to determine or inquire about disclosure and confidentiality
regarding additional parties.
4. As a rule, always use
person-first language.
People with disabilities are people first and foremost.
Their disability is only a part of who they are. Avoid
referencing people with disabilities as “disabled people”.
Doing so can insinuate that their disability defines them
more than their humanity, personality, profession,
expertise, education, ect.
5. Treat accessibility
equipment/professionals as
an extension of their person.
Accessibility equipment such as wheelchairs and canes,
or professionals such as interpreters, should never be
handled or addressed without first addressing the person
using them. Doing so can be seen as disrespectful and
distracting.
6. Ask before providing
assistance.
People with disabilities navigate society everyday both
with and without assistance. They have had to learn
where and when assistance is required and no one is
more qualified to know when assistance is required than
they are. Even if you see someone struggling with a task,
always politely ask if they require assistance before
assisting them.
The Four Types of Accessibility
1. Plain Language Accessibility:Using simple English
in company policy
2. Physical Accessibility:Ramps, lifts, modified desks
3. Digital Accessibility: Screen reader
4. Procurement Accessibility: Vendor accessibility
policies
Plain Language Accessibility: Free to Minimal Expense
● Adapt current orientation and onboarding documents to a plain
language format.
● Create a clear and concise Accommodations Policy and a process for
requesting them.
● Purchase color communication badges to help those with
neurodivergent disabilities communicate their preferences
non-verbally.
● Ensure that emergency action plans and drills provide detailed
information to include and accommodate persons with disabilities.
Plain Language Accessibility: Moderate Expense
● Work with a local agency to hire experienced, licensed interpreters for
both virtual and in-person meetings and events.
● Plan ahead to book the most well-suited interpreters when possible.
● Budget for two interpreters for all-day events that require consecutive
interpreting.
● Provide space, meals, refreshments and breaks for interpreters &
aides.
● Plan far enough in advance to provide meeting/event agendas for
interpreters at least 24 hour prior to the event.
Physical Accessibility: Free to Minimal Expense
● Avoid using tables higher than 34 inches for displays, and communal food &
beverage, including event bars.
● Often used items like coffee machines, office supplies, and company
reception desks should be placed no higher than 34 inches above the ground.
● Purchase adaptable office furniture such as adjustable desks, heavy duty
desk chairs, and lower filing cabinets.
● Purchase items already built for accessibility like refrigerators with bottom
freezers, microwaves installed beneath countertops and farmhouse sinks with
touchless kitchen faucets fit with long,detachable heads for break rooms and
office kitchens.
Physical Accessibility: Moderate Expense
● Commission copies of Braille signage and widely used company material.
● Widen doorways of community spaces to 32-48 inches to accommodate
wheelchairs in areas not required by the ADA like offices, kitchen doors and
conference rooms in existing structures not used by the public.
● Hire an accessibility designer to reimagine your major company events or
office layout; they’ll help to discern possible hazards, obstructions and
accessibility concerns.
Digital Accessibility: Free to Minimal Expense
● Adding disability representation to company websites
● Installing screen reader and voice recognition software
● Adaptive keyboards with mouse navigation alternatives
● Wireless, flashing light doorbells for offices
● Hiring digital accessibility consultants to add accessible
features to your company website for as low as $50 per
month.
● Get a free digital scan of your website from most digital
accessibility providers.
Digital Accessibility: Moderate Expense
● Hiring an accessible web designer to make basic
websites (between 1-10 pages) completely accessible
for about 2-5k
● Budgeting for transcription services for important
meetings such as board and committee meetings.
Procurement Accessibility: Free to Minimal Expense
● Create a Procurement Accessibility Policy that requires digital
vendors to meet your company’s accessibility guidelines prior to
procuring their services or software.
● Create a Request for Proposal (RFP) form that potential vendors
must complete to ensure they meet minimum policy requirements.
● Require a live demonstration to verify that the vendor actually
meets policy requirements.
● Elect an Accessibility Procurement Process Partner on your staff
to continue to oversee this process.
Procurement Accessibility: Moderate Expense
● Hire an Accessibility Auditor to perform a thorough audit of current digital
systems and software, concentrating on those most widely used first.
● Hire an Accessibility Specialist on a contractual basis to create a
Procurement Accessibility Policy.
● Contract with them on an adhoc basis to evaluate digital vendors, and
ensure they meet your company’s accessibility guidelines prior to
procuring their services.
● Have the Accessibility Specialist manage the Procurement Accessibility
Process each time, for a more thorough verification process.
Evaluate Company Hiring Practices
● Ensure all managers, and those involved in the hiring process, have
completed Disability Inclusion Training as a requirement.
● Review job ads to ensure are accessible to all, written in plain language,
without jargon, with clear instructions.
● Simplify the application process with accessible forms & assigning
assessments only when absolutely required.
● Be proactive about offering accommodations to candidates both verbally
and in writing.
● Offer a variety of interview formats to accommodate candidates as needed.
Additional Accessibility Tips
● Create a Disability Toolkit to empower your managers
and employees with different resources about Disability
Culture, accessibility and inclusion(videos, training
materials, dictionaries, articles, updates, ect.
● Include Disability Inclusion Training in DEI Program
● Avoid the falling into the “separate, but equal” trope.
● Consider mandating a fragrance free workplace.
● Create a “No Open-Door Policy”
Additional Resources
Getting Started!
Learn More About:
Disability As A Culture
The Disability Cultural Center (DOC)
Learn More About:
Recruiting, Hiring & Retention
Employer Assistance and Resource
Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN)
Learn More About:
A Guide to Plain Language
World Disability Institute (WDI)
Learn More About:
Job Accommodations
“Employers Practical Guide to Reasonable
Accommodations Under the ADA”
AND
“Sample Accommodations Policy”
Job Accommodations Network (JAN)
Learn More About: Disability Acronyms
Disability Acronym Dictionary
Association of University Centers
on Disabilities (AUCD)
Learn More About:
Building an Accessibility Toolkit
Accessibility Toolkits
Partnership on Employment &
Accessibility Technology (PEAT)
Learn More About:
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines
Web Content Accesssibility Guidelines
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)
Learn More About:
Procurement Accessibility Policies
Building Blocks of an Accessible
Procurement Program
Disability:IN (Disability Inclusion)
Learn More About:
Planning Accessible Events
Accessibility Toolkit for Venues & Destinations
Event Services Professionals Association
(ESPA)
The ABCDE of Accessibility!
ALWAYS
Ask people what they need
THINK!
Beyond the physical environment to full inclusivity
SEEK!
Consultation with accessibility experts ALSO Collaborate with Disability Organizations
STOP!
Don’t assume anything
LISTEN!
Everyone is different
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From Awareness to Action: An HR Guide to Making Accessibility Accessible

  • 1.
  • 2.
  • 3.
  • 4.
  • 5. What is disability? Disability is… ● Normal ● Visible and invisible ● Unique ● Something that affects us all ● A protected class ● Cultural
  • 6. What disability is not. Disability is not… ● Inability ● A derogatory term ● A person’s total existence ● Automatically indicative of intellect or intellectual capacity ● A reason for pity
  • 7. How the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines disability. “A person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such an impairment, or a person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment.”
  • 8. But people within the Disability Community define themselves through a very rich CULTURE
  • 9. The Disability Awareness Flag displays: -Red: Physical -Gold: Neurodivergency -White: Invisible/Undiagnosed -Blue: Emotional/Psychiatric -Green: Sensory -Black: Unseen/Unheard
  • 10. ”Alll those who have lost their lives due to ableism, violence, negligence, suicide, illness, and eugenics.”
  • 11. Disability Culture consists of many of the same things all cultures do: ● History ● Philosophy ● Literature ● Art ● Social gatherings ● Social/Political leadership ● Icons/Heroes ● Norms & mores ● Language ● Protocol ● Social/Political platforms
  • 12. 1. The ability to have self-awareness of one’s own culture, while being able to respond effectively to another person's cultural differences and needs. 2. A cornerstone of DEI and a key component of Accessibility Cultural & Linguistic Competency
  • 13. Accessibility is the foundation of cultural & linguistic competency within the disability community. An employer cannot think of itself as inclusive of people with disabilities if they do not care to understand its’ culture, and adapt its’ own company culture to include those with disabilities through Accessibility.
  • 14. So, what is accessibility? Ensuring that those with disabilities have access to the same opportunities and services that those without disabilities have, AND that they have this access WITHOUT discrimation.
  • 15. “Accomodation “without discrimination” is the key! To accommodate means to: ● Fit in with the needs or wishes of; ● Provide sufficient space for; or ● Adapt to another person's needs. In many ways we happily, and without discrimination, accomodate: ● Families; ● Significant others; ● Friends; and ● VIPs
  • 16. Accomodation is great, but accessibility is better! Accomodation is REACTIVE, and seeks to make adaptive changes after the fact. Ex. Allowing an overstimulated colleague to leave the office for better productivity. Accessibility is PROACTIVE, and seeks to design or create with people with disabilities in mind. Ex. Including a “Quiet Room” in your initial office design layout.
  • 17. Why should employers champion accessibility? A report from the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) shows that: ● 89% of employers that included accessibility within their overall talent strategy experienced an increase in employee retention; ● 72% saw an increase in employee productivity; and ● 46% saw an increase in employee safety.
  • 18. The Obligation vs the Desire to Include Obligation ● Adhering to federal ADA guidelines; ● Providing a reasonable accommodation when requested; and ● Creating a clear Company Accommodations Policy Desire ● Educating your staff on Disability Culture from the top down; ● Infusing accessibility considerations into every facet of company operations; and ● Intentionally adding Accessibility to your DEI initiatives.
  • 19. What is considered a reasonable accommodation per the ADA guidelines?
  • 20. Reasonable accommodation is defined as: “Any change or adjustment to a job or work environment that permits a qualified applicant or employee with a disability to participate in the job application process, to perform the essential functions of a job, or to enjoy benefits and privileges of employment equal to those enjoyed by employees without disabilities.”
  • 21. Examples include: ● acquiring or modifying equipment or devices; ● job restructuring; ● part-time or modified work schedules; ● reassignment to a vacant position; ● adjusting or modifying examinations, training materials or policies, ● providing readers and interpreters; and ● making the workplace readily accessible to and usable by people with disabilities.
  • 22. The ADA further states that: “It is a violation of the ADA to fail to provide reasonable accommodation to the known physical or mental limitations of a qualified individual with a disability, unless to do so would impose an undue hardship on the operation of your business. Undue hardship means that the accommodation would require significant difficulty or expense.”
  • 23. Employer’s need to know: 1. What constitutes undue hardship? 2. Who has the burden of determining undue hardship?
  • 24. The employer must determine undue hardship The Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) recommends using the following criteria to determine undue hardship: ● The location of the company(ex. in-person vs. remote); ● The industry classification and safety (manufacturing; tech; media); ● The nature and cost of the accommodation needed; ● If the execution of the accommodation would severely impact company operations; and ● The overall financial resources & number of people employed.
  • 25. Two things every employer should know about employing people with disabilities: 1. There is no inclusion without intention. 2. *Your entire staff should be involved, whenever possible! *People seeking accommodations have a right to as much privacy as possible.
  • 26. How do we start to become intentional about accessibility inclusion in the workplace? We first empower one another by learning six basic rules of respectful communication and interaction when addressing people with disabilities.
  • 27. 1. Avoid making assumptions about people with disabilities. If you have a question specific to them, pull the person to the side and ask them if they would mind answering appropriate questions to gain a better understanding of what they might need.
  • 28. 2. BUT do not assume it’s their job to educate everyone. Just because a person has a disability, it doesn’t make them an expert on all things disability related. Their job description should not include having to train other employees on the topic of disability. This is why company-wide training and educational resources are so important.
  • 29. 3. Don’t ever “out” a person’s disability or disability status. Some disabilities are invisible or unknown/undiagnosed, and no one is required to disclose their disability or disability status. If they have chosen to disclose their disability to HR or their supervisor, it’s the employer’s job to determine or inquire about disclosure and confidentiality regarding additional parties.
  • 30. 4. As a rule, always use person-first language. People with disabilities are people first and foremost. Their disability is only a part of who they are. Avoid referencing people with disabilities as “disabled people”. Doing so can insinuate that their disability defines them more than their humanity, personality, profession, expertise, education, ect.
  • 31. 5. Treat accessibility equipment/professionals as an extension of their person. Accessibility equipment such as wheelchairs and canes, or professionals such as interpreters, should never be handled or addressed without first addressing the person using them. Doing so can be seen as disrespectful and distracting.
  • 32. 6. Ask before providing assistance. People with disabilities navigate society everyday both with and without assistance. They have had to learn where and when assistance is required and no one is more qualified to know when assistance is required than they are. Even if you see someone struggling with a task, always politely ask if they require assistance before assisting them.
  • 33. The Four Types of Accessibility 1. Plain Language Accessibility:Using simple English in company policy 2. Physical Accessibility:Ramps, lifts, modified desks 3. Digital Accessibility: Screen reader 4. Procurement Accessibility: Vendor accessibility policies
  • 34. Plain Language Accessibility: Free to Minimal Expense ● Adapt current orientation and onboarding documents to a plain language format. ● Create a clear and concise Accommodations Policy and a process for requesting them. ● Purchase color communication badges to help those with neurodivergent disabilities communicate their preferences non-verbally. ● Ensure that emergency action plans and drills provide detailed information to include and accommodate persons with disabilities.
  • 35. Plain Language Accessibility: Moderate Expense ● Work with a local agency to hire experienced, licensed interpreters for both virtual and in-person meetings and events. ● Plan ahead to book the most well-suited interpreters when possible. ● Budget for two interpreters for all-day events that require consecutive interpreting. ● Provide space, meals, refreshments and breaks for interpreters & aides. ● Plan far enough in advance to provide meeting/event agendas for interpreters at least 24 hour prior to the event.
  • 36. Physical Accessibility: Free to Minimal Expense ● Avoid using tables higher than 34 inches for displays, and communal food & beverage, including event bars. ● Often used items like coffee machines, office supplies, and company reception desks should be placed no higher than 34 inches above the ground. ● Purchase adaptable office furniture such as adjustable desks, heavy duty desk chairs, and lower filing cabinets. ● Purchase items already built for accessibility like refrigerators with bottom freezers, microwaves installed beneath countertops and farmhouse sinks with touchless kitchen faucets fit with long,detachable heads for break rooms and office kitchens.
  • 37. Physical Accessibility: Moderate Expense ● Commission copies of Braille signage and widely used company material. ● Widen doorways of community spaces to 32-48 inches to accommodate wheelchairs in areas not required by the ADA like offices, kitchen doors and conference rooms in existing structures not used by the public. ● Hire an accessibility designer to reimagine your major company events or office layout; they’ll help to discern possible hazards, obstructions and accessibility concerns.
  • 38. Digital Accessibility: Free to Minimal Expense ● Adding disability representation to company websites ● Installing screen reader and voice recognition software ● Adaptive keyboards with mouse navigation alternatives ● Wireless, flashing light doorbells for offices ● Hiring digital accessibility consultants to add accessible features to your company website for as low as $50 per month. ● Get a free digital scan of your website from most digital accessibility providers.
  • 39. Digital Accessibility: Moderate Expense ● Hiring an accessible web designer to make basic websites (between 1-10 pages) completely accessible for about 2-5k ● Budgeting for transcription services for important meetings such as board and committee meetings.
  • 40. Procurement Accessibility: Free to Minimal Expense ● Create a Procurement Accessibility Policy that requires digital vendors to meet your company’s accessibility guidelines prior to procuring their services or software. ● Create a Request for Proposal (RFP) form that potential vendors must complete to ensure they meet minimum policy requirements. ● Require a live demonstration to verify that the vendor actually meets policy requirements. ● Elect an Accessibility Procurement Process Partner on your staff to continue to oversee this process.
  • 41. Procurement Accessibility: Moderate Expense ● Hire an Accessibility Auditor to perform a thorough audit of current digital systems and software, concentrating on those most widely used first. ● Hire an Accessibility Specialist on a contractual basis to create a Procurement Accessibility Policy. ● Contract with them on an adhoc basis to evaluate digital vendors, and ensure they meet your company’s accessibility guidelines prior to procuring their services. ● Have the Accessibility Specialist manage the Procurement Accessibility Process each time, for a more thorough verification process.
  • 42. Evaluate Company Hiring Practices ● Ensure all managers, and those involved in the hiring process, have completed Disability Inclusion Training as a requirement. ● Review job ads to ensure are accessible to all, written in plain language, without jargon, with clear instructions. ● Simplify the application process with accessible forms & assigning assessments only when absolutely required. ● Be proactive about offering accommodations to candidates both verbally and in writing. ● Offer a variety of interview formats to accommodate candidates as needed.
  • 43. Additional Accessibility Tips ● Create a Disability Toolkit to empower your managers and employees with different resources about Disability Culture, accessibility and inclusion(videos, training materials, dictionaries, articles, updates, ect. ● Include Disability Inclusion Training in DEI Program ● Avoid the falling into the “separate, but equal” trope. ● Consider mandating a fragrance free workplace. ● Create a “No Open-Door Policy”
  • 45. Learn More About: Disability As A Culture The Disability Cultural Center (DOC)
  • 46. Learn More About: Recruiting, Hiring & Retention Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN)
  • 47. Learn More About: A Guide to Plain Language World Disability Institute (WDI)
  • 48. Learn More About: Job Accommodations “Employers Practical Guide to Reasonable Accommodations Under the ADA” AND “Sample Accommodations Policy” Job Accommodations Network (JAN)
  • 49. Learn More About: Disability Acronyms Disability Acronym Dictionary Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD)
  • 50. Learn More About: Building an Accessibility Toolkit Accessibility Toolkits Partnership on Employment & Accessibility Technology (PEAT)
  • 51. Learn More About: Web Content Accessibility Guidelines Web Content Accesssibility Guidelines The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)
  • 52. Learn More About: Procurement Accessibility Policies Building Blocks of an Accessible Procurement Program Disability:IN (Disability Inclusion)
  • 53. Learn More About: Planning Accessible Events Accessibility Toolkit for Venues & Destinations Event Services Professionals Association (ESPA)
  • 54. The ABCDE of Accessibility! ALWAYS Ask people what they need THINK! Beyond the physical environment to full inclusivity SEEK! Consultation with accessibility experts ALSO Collaborate with Disability Organizations STOP! Don’t assume anything LISTEN! Everyone is different