Working in disability (and being disabled) is a funny one. I feel a bit like a sales person sometimes. Trying to change people’s negative assumptions and show we are actually like, you know – just average people. Not all ‘suffering’ and not all ‘superhuman’. I absolutely love that invisible switch that happens when someone seems more comfortable and relaxed when talking to me. When I tell people what I do and that part of it is training people with my workshops about raising knowledge around disability, people naturally want to tell me how ok that are about disabled people and that they and their team don’t need training. I thought I’d share the main reasons for this that I hear and how actually – we all need training and you really don’t know, what you don’t know.
“We’re fine as we are”
It’s really easy to stay as you are – in your comfort zone. Everything is running smoothly, why do we need to introduce MORE training? The point is, if you stick to the same old thing, you will not grow and diversify. So many disabled people experience barriers that it is impossible to feedback all of them. So you may have barriers that you’re just not aware of.
Making your organisation accessible and comfortable for disabled people, not only invites more business, but it keeps you proactive rather than reactive. It may even mean your staff team diversify, therefore meaning more leaders are leading the way to creating the path for a more inclusive environment… see where I’m going here?
“No one here is disabled”
A lot of people in business assume that if they don’t have any wheelchair users, they don’t have any disabled employees. However, there are so many impairments that are not visible that you can’t possibly know that. In fact there are 13.9 million disabled people in the UK and 19% of working age adults are disabled (from Scope) so it is likely you do have disabled people in your organisation that you are not aware of.
And most importantly, if you think disabled people don’t visit your shop/business/building, there’s the problem – they’re not there because they can’t access it.
“My wife’s mum’s cousin is in a wheelchair”
Now, I know I’m being a bit sarcastic in that quote – but hear me out. There’s no doubting, that if you know someone who is disabled, you are more likely to feel more at ease when communicating with some disabled people. However, some people think that because they know someone who is disabled, they automatically don’t need training. However, there are so many areas of disability that it is impossible to know about all impairments. We can all learn more about disability – including myself.
“I’ve done this job for years”
This is probably the most popular one I hear. It is common that when you’ve been in the same job for years, you’ve had a certain process around supporting disabled people and this has “worked for years”. However, the world is ever evolving, with more platforms to share opinions, disabled people are speaking up and things are changing. Therefore it’s important to listen to disabled people on how the world is changing and how to adjust your processes necessarily.
“We’re accessible, it’s the law”
The other day someone said to me “it has to be accessible – it’s the law!”. But unfortunately this is just not the case. Yes there are standards, but there are still so many places that are inaccessible. This is also not just about physical access, but attitudes and how people are treated. It’s important to keep up to date with disability knowledge to make sure people are welcomed, adjustments are made when necessary and the right terminology is used. The law is helpful at times, but it’s about the whole package and experience.
So there we have it – have you thought or said any of these before? Disability is slowly being talked about more and more. But there are still so many barriers in everyday life for disabled people that could be ironed out if people had more disability knowledge and confidence.
Oh and I have to of course mention – if this has made you think and you would like you and your team to learn more about disability, my bespoke beginner workshops may be of interest to you!
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