#InclusionAtWork – Ways to support intellectually disabled employees at the workplace
People with intellectual disabilities and autism find it hard to get jobs. There are many myths and stereotypes that act as barriers. There is a strong business case for hiring people with such disabilities. All they need are some minor accommodations at the workplace.
With just a little support, people with disabilities can perform a wide range of jobs. This awareness is growing in India with more organisations opening their doors to disabled people. However, opportunities are largely limited to people with locomotor disabilities, and vision and hearing impairments. People with autism and intellectual disabilities don’t get jobs and face many barriers.
“The biggest accommodation is an open mind”, said Shaloo Sharma, Founder-Director, Evoluer Solutions, speaking to NewzHook. Evoluer Solutions works with industry leaders corporates in enabling equal opportunities for disabled people.
Companies and employers need to remember that there is no one rule that applies to all for people with intellectual disabilities and autism. If you are hiring three people, then 50% of the accommodations will be common but the rest have to be tweaked to meet individual needs. – Shaloo Sharma, Founder-Director, Evoluer Solutions
Accommodations for employees with intellectual disabilities
A thorough training period is necessary before placing people with intellectual disabilities on the job. “You cannot randomly take 15 people and expect them to perform. At Evoluer, we put them through an intensive training period first. This is accompanied with a job coach training
Sonali Saini is the founder of Sol’s Arc, a Mumbai-based NGO that is working with organisations like Big Bazaar and Amazon India to create opportunities for people with autism and intellectual disabilities. Sonali calls employee training a vital aspect. “The instructions should be kept short and simple. Tasks should be broken down with visual cues. Setting a clear schedule for the day including short breaks and lunch timings helps”.
Having a buddy system at the workplace is important with continuous sensitisation carried out.
“Be careful when it comes to choosing the space you place the disabled person in”, adds Shaloo. “Don’t put them in a large space. Instead choose a small section and let the person becomes comfortable working there”.
Tips to mentor a person with intellectual disability
Constant mentoring is necessary to enable people with autism and intellectual disabilities perform their best. David Finch, Director, National Star College-UK, who has conducted many training sessions in India for employers and NGOs, calls them ‘pragmatic learners’. Speaking at a session in Mumbai in November, Finch said people with intellectual disabilities learn best in doing a task.
“A person with an intellectual disability wants to please. If you walk away, they become anxious. So, the best approach is to mentor them through a task. Tell them clearly when they are doing something correctly and when they are not. This teaches them resilience because they learn how to recover from failure. Make the praise meaningful by qualifying what you are praising them for”.
People with intellectual disabilities need a chance to show what they can do. A chance they are often not given because people don’t expect enough of them. Every person has a contribution to make, all they need is an opportunity.