Ability and Disability Diversity in the Workplace: Definition, Trends & Examples

Ability and Disability Diversity in the Workplace: Definition, Trends & Examples
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  • 0:01 Ability & Disability
  • 1:14 Diversity
  • 2:25 Sensitivity
  • 3:42 The ADA & Accommodation
  • 4:49 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

Everyone has both strengths and limitations, and it is the diversity of these things that makes for a great workplace. In this lesson, we'll examine ability and disability diversity in the workplace, including the ADA and sensitivity training.

Ability & Disability

Gerard is president of a company that employs many different types of people. He's noticed that his employees vary in what they can and cannot do and wants to make sure that he's supporting all of his workers. Everyone has strengths and challenges. A person's ability is the resources to perform well at something. For example, one of Gerard's employees, Alexis, has a very analytical mind. She's able to access an idea and point out the flaws in it. This then helps the company identify problems before implementing something. Her analytical thinking skills are an ability of hers and a major asset to the company.

A person's disability is the limits or challenges he or she faces. For example, Alexis is deaf and therefore, she faces certain challenges in the workplace that others might not face. A disability does not mean that a person is not able to perform a task or do a job. It only means that they face certain limitations or challenges.

To help Gerard understand how to meet the needs of his employees, including Alexis, let's look closer at ability and disability diversity in the workforce.


Gerard knows that his company is much better now that Alexis has joined their workforce, but he wasn't always so sure that it would be a good thing to have her as part of the team. At first, he was worried about hiring someone with a disability like Alexis's. Having a variety of all types of talents and limits in a company is called ability and disability diversity.

For example, Alexis is very good at analyzing ideas and finding flaws. Another worker in the company is good at coming up with big ideas for marketing campaigns and still another worker is good at following through on those big ideas and making them come to fruition. Likewise, Alexis has limitations because of her hearing but one of her coworkers has issues that limit how he can move and get around. Still another employee at the company has severe allergies that restrict where she can work in the office.

The wide variety of both strengths and weaknesses at Gerard's company means that he has a very diverse workforce. This is a good thing, as some studies have shown that diversity of employees leads to greater job satisfaction and greater productivity within a company.


However, not all people understand the benefits that ability and disability diversity can bring to a company and some are even hostile or rude to those with disabilities. For example, one of her coworkers used to make fun of Alexis because of her hearing disability. When bullying or other discrimination against those with disabilities occurs, companies often engage in sensitivity training, or classes or workshops designed to help people understand and appreciate the disabilities of others.

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