Some tips for working with people with disabilities
Today, more government and private companies are hiring people with disabilities. That is the reason why organisations must start becoming more inclusive. Staffs must be sensitized on how to interact with their disabled colleagues. The disability rights laws clearly highlights the importance of hiring people with disabilities in mainstream jobs. Though we still have a long way to go, at least we are getting there.
Vijay Manjunath, a wheelchair user, works with a leading corporate company in Bengaluru. Before joining here, he has worked with over five companies, including BPO’s.
When a disabled person joins a company, it is very important to sensitize other staffs. Most importantly, companies must have assistive devices which we can use. For example, I travel a long distance to reach my work place. I cannot always carry my wheelchair in the cab because it is heavy. If companies have that policy of providing us with assistive devices, it will be of tremendous help. It is always best if our colleagues are approachable too- Vijay Manjunath.
Here are some tips for working with people with disabilities
Focus on strengths, work on weakness– The society has always underestimated what a disabled person can do. There are many talented and skilled disabled people. But they are provided with less opportunities to showcase their talents. When you have a disabled colleague, help them to look at their strengths. Working on the weaknesses are equally important. Realise that it is a chance for you also to grow and learn new things.
Sensitization matters– Society is still unaware of disabilities. Most people do not know how to interact with a disabled person. When you have a disabled colleague, this reflects clearly. It is the duty of the company management to ensure that all the staffs know how to interact with a disabled person. You company did not take that initiative? Then you always can.
Be aware of personal space– Most of the disabled people use assistive devices. It is important for their safety as well. It can be wheelchairs, canes or walkers. These aids are part of their personal space. It is important to respect that. Hence, do not touch, lean or move the aids.
Ask before you help– Most people think that a disabled person always needs help. A disabled person clearly knows how to do their things without another person’s help. They are used to it. So even if you see them struggling, ask them before you reach out to them. It is also important to not be offended if your disabled colleague declines your offer.
Satish Kumar, a wheelchair user from Chennai, works with a leading bank.
“One of the most important factors is having an accessible work place. In my case, my office has ramps and accessible toilets too. My colleagues are great fun to work with. So in case there is some delay in my work due to my speed, they help me. It is important to have that balance. We need to maintain a good relationship with our colleagues”, says Satish.