12 things you should know about Disability Inclusion while empowering the youth
Disability inclusion involves creating opportunities for everyone, regardless of what their physical or mental challenges may be. This involves making transportation, employment and education available and accessible to people with disabilities.
Being part of the Make 12.4% Work Initiative, we work alongside disabled and vulnerable persons to help meet their essential needs, especially employment,livelihoods, and promotion of respect for their dignity and fundamental Rights across Uganda.
We are outraged by the injustice faced by People With Disabilities when it comes to employment, and we aspire for a world of solidarity and inclusion, enriched by our differences, where everyone can live in harmony, fairness and dignity.
With that in mind, here are 12 things you should know about disability inclusion when empowering the young generation;
Avoid assumptions on the capability of young people with disabilities. Ask them what they can do; focus on their skills, experience and abilities. We all know that when most people glance at persons with disabilities, their thoughts run to incapabilities or that they aren’t able to perform for example when they see a person with visual impairment they consider them incapable of performing at a job which is not the case. We ought to learn that assumptions about capability disempower these youngsters and yet our goal should always be to rally them on and show them that we have confidence that they will execute allocated tasks and responsibilities.
People with disabilities don’t require “special” opportunities. Just reasonable accommodation to serve alongside other members. A reasonable accommodation is assistance or changes to a position or workplace that will enable an employee to do his or her job despite having a disability for example when an employee is physically disabled and uses a wheelchair, it would be appropriate to provide a ramp to ease mobility. This increases one’s performance at work and is able to meet deliverables effectively.
Speak and consult directly with people with disabilities. They may have their families, friends, interpreters, or caregivers with them, and it is so easy to turn to the helpers and address them instead. Some people may not even realize that they are doing that. But it is demoralising and makes them feel invisible. Always ensure to speak directly to them and engage them all through your conversation and supervision. Speaking to them through an emissary makes them feel invisible and ignored.
Be aware of stigmatising language. Even the most aware of still thoughtlessly use “lame,” “crazy,” “morons,” “insane,” “OCD,” “schizophrenic,” etc when referring to persons with disabilities. sing such language devalues persons with disabilities. Disabilities do not define a person and so shouldn’t be used to describe them either. We are all uniquely build and created individuals whose strengths define us.
Make sure all events and meetings are accessible; including the physical space, as well as how to get there, and technology and services. “Always consider how people will get to the location, give plenty of notice, and offer assistance with transportation options if possible. Some people with mobility concerns have very complicated commutes and it can be a juggling act to make sure everything happens when it needs to.
Think about the layout of your events. Is there enough room between tables for people using wheelchairs, for example? “We’re often quick to ensure that people using wheelchairs or other mobility devices are able to attend events—or at least that’s my hope. What if they were presenting, though? Is there a stage that is only accessible by climbing stairs, or a podium that wouldn’t work for someone remaining seated?” Have this in mind the next time you’re inviting persons with Disability to your event(s).
Create an environment and culture that allows employees or volunteers to ask for accommodations. Sometimes it’s uncomfortable to ask and also to be asked. This is so because one feels isolated and may somehow affect full participation. So take away as much discomfort as possible by using inclusive, positive language and thinking ahead of what might be needed. Understand that a disability (visible or not) may sometimes interfere with job performance and allow the employee to know this is okay.
Respect wheelchairs (and other mobility aids). The wheelchair is an extension of the person. Don’t lean on the chair or try to move it out of your way; that it is rude. Don’t look down on a person in a wheelchair; get to eye level even if that means you need to sit in a chair to have a conversation.
Paying attention to font size. Considering the fact that print materials produced are also targeting persons with visual impairment, the font should be visible enough preferably in large print to give these people access to whatever information is being passed out. Having contrasting backgrounds is great too.
Assuming competence and intelligence. Use respectful language and tone of voice that you would use with anyone else for example instead of calling one mentally retarded you could refer to them as one with cognitive disability.. People with extreme cognitive delays will still be able to recognize condescension and placating in your voice.
Be aware of icebreakers and activities that require movement. Asking people to catch things, to quickly trade places, to stand up to be recognized, etc. At fundraisers, don’t ask people to stand up as a way of showing that they are donating a certain amount. A sign should do. Or at least modify the language to acknowledge that some people may not be able to stand up.
Ensure everyone on your board and staff is trained on disability. Many employers provide training on other equity issues to their employees, but disability inclusion often gets overlooked. Even though many disabilities are invisible, many of us unconsciously assume that people don’t have a disability unless it’s visible, so we don’t plan and budget for training unless a person with a visible disability is on our team. Let’s all get more training for a more harmonious and fair world for everyone in it.