“Legislation and increased representation is one thing, changing attitudes and perceptions is another.”
Attitudes of ableism can manifest in many ways. As someone with a disability it often means I have to ‘make the most of the situation’ or think to myself, “at least I could get into this building”, even if that means facing humiliation and embarrassment. I don’t complain as this happens daily, but it’s exhausting. Ultimately, like everyone else, I just want to live my life.
So how can you challenge these attitudes in society? There is nothing to be feared; disabled people can make a valuable contribution to society.
How to challenge ableism in the workplace
Ask and don’t assume. Don’t be afraid to ask about someone’s disability and what that means for them. It can prevent embarrassment or unnecessary awkwardness.
Involve everyone in decision making. Those living with disabilities will have unique insights to offer.
Enable advocacy. Allow those living with disabilities to advocate for themselves. Support people and create an environment that allows people to advocate. People living with a disability have a voice.
Create a culture of openness. Cultivate behaviours where people aren’t embarrassed to discuss health issues and disabilities (where appropriate and sensitive to do so).
Be adaptive. Work with those living with disabilities. Make the changes to make it work. Covid has forced us to adapt and become more flexible. We have no excuses now.
Value disability and difference. It is nothing to be feared. It shapes you as a person. Those living with disabilities have so much to offer. Disability and difference should be embraced and can add so much to your organisation and society.
When you feel valued, you want to contribute to society and to make a difference, without being held back. Having a disability is not a barrier, it is society and the attitudes it peddles that that are barriers. But these can and should be overcome, allowing everyone to thrive. And if you want to know how – come talk to me about open roles at Intent Health.