The innovations that have led to universally beneficial advancements such as accessible technology, accessible transportation, accessible education, and accessible employment have been driven by employees who have had to work in a world that wasn’t originally designed for them.
When the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became law in 1990, it expanded disability recruitment and hiring efforts by prohibiting discrimination, but there has been an ongoing attitudinal shift over the subsequent three decades in regards to how we can fully embrace the values of a differently abled workforce.
The community of people with disabilities can offer unique frames of reference that have the potential to redefine how we all collectively engage in work. By viewing workspaces through the lenses of those with different needs, we can be more thoughtful about all employees’ needs – especially as we move to hybrid and remote models.
People with disabilities have long been adapting to a world that wasn’t built for them, and they are often at the forefront of embracing new technologies, and their advocacy for more accessible technologies in turn drives innovation, expands client bases, and helps other underrepresented groups strengthen their own diversity.
If executives and senior management can recognize and incorporate the community’s forward-thinking and problem-solving attitudes, they’ll hold the key to unlocking the future of work.