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.
For example, Gerard had a sensitivity training session that allowed all the employees to see the strengths and weaknesses of everyone at the company, including themselves. This helped them understand that they were all important members of the team. In addition, like many sensitivity training sessions, the one that Gerard held at his company gave his employees tools and skills to communicate with people who are different. Alexis's coworkers learned that she has a great sense of humor and a lot to say but they have to be patient and wait for her to say it because her hearing loss means that she doesn't speak the same way they do. The workshop taught them to be patient, let her get her thoughts out, and ask her to repeat or clarify if they aren't sure what she means.
The ADA & Accommodation
Despite the benefits of a diverse workforce, many employers are hesitant to hire persons with disabilities, like Gerard was at first. In 1992, the Americans with Disabilities Act (usually referred to as the ADA) was passed. It says that employers cannot discriminate against a person with a disability and must provide employees with recognized disabilities with reasonable accommodations.
So, Gerard could not have refused to hire Alexis just because she is deaf; likewise, if she requests it, Gerard must make reasonable accommodations for her to help her do her job. An accommodation is simply assistance or a change that will allow an employee to do his or her job. For example, Alexis might need an adaptive device that translates her coworker's speech to written words on a tablet. Her coworker might need a special desk to help with his mobility issues. Thanks to the ADA, many more people with disabilities are able to work and companies are reaping the benefit of ability and disability diversity.
Everyone has strengths and challenges. Ability is the resources to perform well at something, while disability is the limits or challenges a person faces. Having a variety of talents and limits in a workforce is called ability and disability diversity. Companies often provide their employees with sensitivity training, or classes or workshops designed to help people understand and appreciate the disabilities of others.
In 1992, the Americans with Disabilities Act (usually referred to as the ADA) was passed. It says that employers cannot discriminate against a person with a disability and must provide employees with recognized disabilities with reasonable accommodations. An accommodation is simply assistance or a change that will allow an employee to do his or her job.
Once you have finished this lesson, you should be able to:
- Define ability, disability, and ability and disability diversity
- Explain why ability and disability diversity is beneficial to companies
- Understand what sensitivity training is and why it is important
- Summarize why the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed and what it says about accommodations