The annual celebration of people with disabilities is on December 3rd
The annual observance of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPWD) was proclaimed in 1992 by United Nations General Assembly resolution 47/3. It aims to promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society and development, and to increase awareness of the situation of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic, cultural, and work life.
Disability Beyond Compliance
December 3rd marks a time for HR leaders to think about their organization’s approach to working with persons with a disability. If you’re a U.S. federal contractor you will have other obligations under Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, most notably, implementing an affirmative action program for persons with a disability, and a 7% utilization target. However, hiring is just one step in a greater process. Creating a culture that welcomes employees living with a disability goes beyond compliance. It requires a deliberate change to a company’s principles, traits, characteristics...it’s very DNA.
Not All Disabilities are Visible
This year’s International Day of People with Disabilities theme, “Not All Disabilities are Visible,” encourages us to acknowledge disabilities that are not always physically seen. Mental illness, chronic pain, fatigue, sight or hearing impairments, diabetes, brain injuries, and learning differences are disabilities that are often overlooked. Building channels where employees feel safe disclosing their disability is critical. After all, it is difficult to provide accommodations and accessibility if you’re not aware of who needs it.
More than 1 billion people are living with disabilities according to the WHO World Report on Disability, and 61 million Americans are among that number. This means one in four U.S. adults have a disability that impacts major life activities—including work. Diversity inclusion means understanding how persons with disabilities can participate in your workplace, and creating the mechanisms to foster a sense of belonging. A best practice is to create a centralized communications system where employees can request accommodations, gather information on programs, participate in events, and perhaps join an employee resource group.
- If you’re a federal contractor, know the law and comply with regulations
- Obtain leadership buy-in for what is needed to implement your disability inclusion program
- Train staff on the law and your policies and procedures
- Develop inclusion programs internally that encourage persons with disabilities to participation at all levels of the company
This day also serves to remove barriers between all people living with and without disability.
The International Day of People with Disabilities has many objectives that cater to those who require understanding and action. Some of these are:
- Educating the community around barriers to inclusion
- Providing opportunities for supported training and employment for those with disability
- The provision of transportation services to support inclusion and participation in society
To learn more about International Day of People with Disabilities, click here.