This week marks the beginning of National Inclusion Week. Created by Inclusive Employers, the annual week-long event is designed to raise awareness of inclusion in the workplace.
In keeping with this year’s theme of Everyday Inclusion, we thought we’d share some simple yet valuable ways you can be inclusive in your everyday life, both in and out of the workplace.
Support a disability charity
These days, we’re lucky to live in a country that boasts hundreds of disability charities. Whether it’s through a fun run, a sports challenge or an online fundraiser, there are dozens of ways to creatively raise money for a worthwhile charity and have fun in the process. Charities also cater to dozens of different disabilities, so whether it’s for vision impairment, mental or physical disabilities, you’re sure to find a charity that is most meaningful to you.
Educate your workplace
Frankly, it’s in a company’s best interests to make their workplace as inclusive as possible. Diverse offices full of various backgrounds and abilities will ultimately be the most rewarding to work in. Take the time to teach your employees about disability awareness and the steps you can all take to be more inclusive and welcoming. Moreover, foster an environment where no employee feels embarrassed or ashamed to speak up about their individual needs and/or accommodations.
Learn some basic visual cues
People are who are visually impaired or deaf may feel cut-off from their co-workers or friends in their everyday lives. Learning some basic visual supports can go a long way in making people feel more included and relaxed in any environment. Just learning the basic signs for phrases such as, “nice to meet you”, “welcome” and “thank you” could provide some much-needed comfort in a new environment which may feel daunting or overwhelming to some.
Look out for people
One of the easiest and most effective ways we can be more inclusive in our everyday lives is to simply look out for others. Whether it’s giving up your seat for someone on the bus or assisting someone who may be in a wheelchair, we can all be a little more mindful in our everyday lives and look out for each other. A small act to you, such as holding the door open to let someone get their equipment through the door, can make all the difference to someone else.
Understand that not every disability is visible
Many of us may think disabilities only concern individuals in wheelchairs or with special equipment. That’s simply not the case. In fact, a lot of disabilities can be “invisible” ones. Brain injuries, epilepsy, ADHD, dyslexia, and even mental health conditions such as anxiety, bipolar disorder and depression all deserve the same awareness and considerations as more visible conditions. Although someone may look “fine” on the outside, you never really know what someone is experiencing on the inside, so try to be mindful of this and treat everyone with a little more kindness and patience.
Provide the right technology
It almost goes without saying at this point, but living in today’s expanding digital world means that everyone needs accessible technology to manage their daily lives. Whether it’s important tasks like responding to work emails or paying bills, down to more casual tasks like booking cinema tickets or holidays, providing accessible technology is a crucial factor that allows disabled people to feel included and recognized in their daily lives.
So there you have it. Simple steps, many of which cost nothing, that we can all incorporate to be a little kinder to each other. Ultimately, it all comes down to being more mindful and understanding that just because someone is disabled doesn’t mean they are any different from you or me.