Tips to make the workplace inclusive for a person with a learning disability
People with learning disabilities have many gifts that make them assets in the workplace. Often these are not recognized, and this something that needs to change for an organization to become inclusive in the true spirit.
The first, and perhaps most crucial, is attitude. Organizations must learn to look at people with learning disabilities as a valuable resource. This is a fundamental first step. Instead of dwelling on the disability, focus on the abilities the person brings to the workplace.
Recognise that everyone has their individual working style and look at supporting that. Like, the buddy system, that helps a person with a learning disability immensely, says Raja Rajasekharan P, Co-founder and Director of v-shesh, an award winning organization that prepares job seekers with opportunities and organizations with disability inclusion.
The buddy system at the workplace is very important. At v-shesh, we have a job coach, who gets into the workplace to understand what kind of skills and support is needed. Once that is understood, the job coach shares that understanding with the buddy and others on the team. – Raja Rajsekharan P, Co-founder/Director, v-shesh
What is necessary is commitment on the part of the organization, points out Rajsekharan. “The leadership must recognise the importance of the role played by the buddy. It has to be a commitment. We once had a vice president coming in as a buddy and he had a good understanding of the time and attention that needed to be invested. The buddy must come with a high level of engagement and the organization should recognise that. “
Ensure the engagement with the employee is constant. This means taking the trouble to ask them what challenges they are facing at work. This will help reach an understanding and arrive at a smooth working pattern.
“The workplace should be very understanding as they need simple and straightforward Instructions”, says Subashini Rao, of Sankalp Trust. Sankalp Trust is an institution that offers a differentiated learning environment to children with learning challenges.
“They should not be cramped with too many instructions as they tend to become nervous. Already their self-esteem and confidence levels are too low. They can follow and, in fact, do well if the environment is very understanding. Using simple language and appreciating their output whenever you can helps in their performance.”
Above all, inclusivity has to become a practice that is ingrained in an organization's operating model. “Organizations must see it as an investment and not CSR”, says Rajsekharan. “Neurodiversity is very important and that is what learning disability brings. “
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