The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 15% of the world's population has a disability and only 48% of working-age people living with a disability are employed. These stats show that it is critical that companies become more inclusive and embrace diversity in all its forms. This is why Vodacom has made it our mission to build an inclusive culture where everyone is respected, can be themselves and strives to be their best. But what is a disability and how can we be more inclusive?
What is a disability?
The United Nations says: 'Persons with disabilities include those with long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments, which in interaction with the various barriers, may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.' In other words, there are four types of impairments:
- Physical. This extends to amputation, mobility issues and breathing problems.
- Sensory/communication. This includes being deaf/hearing-impaired, having a speech impairment, and being blind or visually impaired.
- Intellectual. Someone with an intellectual disability may not learn as quickly as others.
- Psychosocial. People with psychosocial disabilities (such as depression) may behave differently from others in social situations.
What is a barrier?
Barriers make it difficult for certain people to get – and keep – a job. There are five types of barriers:
- Physical. Examples are dim lighting, no accessibility ramps and narrow aisles.
- Communication. Things like inaccessible websites and complicated written instructions prevent social interaction.
- Organisational. These are policies that do not exist or policies that prevent the hiring and success of people with disabilities.
- Legislative. These are laws that deny those with disabilities of their rights.
- Negative attitude. These are assumptions about the capabilities of people with disabilities.
How can we be more inclusive?
People with disabilities have rights to equal access. This includes curb cuts for people who use wheelchairs and wide aisles with no obstructions for people who have a visual impairment.
Disability Awareness Training
It's important to help managers and colleagues learn about disabilities. This will help to address the negative attitude barrier, gather more support for accessible solutions, and reveal unconscious biases – which we all have.
Where possible, you can make adjustments for individuals. For example, by allowing flexible working hours, supplying a chair for someone who would usually have to stand or by giving someone with a learning disability more time to learn.