What Is Disability Inclusion?

By Workplace Initiative
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Disability inclusion is the process of hiring people with disabilities and creating a workplace where all employees can thrive. An inclusive workplace welcomes employees with disabilities and values their strengths. It also provides opportunities for them to succeed at all levels of the company. Professional growth, fair compensation, and career advancement are key aspects of inclusion.

In other words, inclusion isn’t just about hiring more employees with disabilities. It requires a cultural shift. The goal is to support everyone as full members of the work community. True inclusion means accepting and embracing difference.

Disability inclusion isn’t about charity. An inclusive workplace holds people with disabilities to the same standards and expectations as the broader team. Everyone works in the same facilities and receives the same pay and benefits.

When talking about disability inclusion, it helps to understand who counts as a person with a disability. For employment, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines an individual with a disability as a person who:

  • Has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity
  • Has a record of such an impairment
  • Is regarded as having such an impairment

Amendments to the ADA make clear that “disability” is defined very broadly and can include:

  • Vision, hearing, and mobility impairments
  • Developmental disabilities, such as intellectual disabilities, autism, or cerebral palsy
  • Emotional and mental health conditions
  • Specific learning disabilities
  • Chronic health conditions, such as diabetes or asthma
  • Episodic impairments or those in remission, such as epilepsy, hypertension, asthma, diabetes, bipolar disorder, cancer that is in remission, or a prior heart attack

This definition includes invisible disabilities. These are disabilities that can’t be seen at first glance. Many people don’t disclose to their employer that they have an invisible disability. This means that companies employ people with undisclosed disabilities without knowing it. But by taking steps to create an inclusive workplace, they can support all of their employees. The bottom line is that disability Inclusion helps both employers and employees thrive.

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