December '22

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A s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) programs become popular at more compa- nies and DEI becomes a sort of buzzword in human resources, there has been an uptick in articles and videos about companies that are making a concentrated effort to employ people that many would call "disabled" or "different- ly abled." The employees may be dealing with physical or emotional challenges; they could be deaf or blind, non-verbal, or dealing with autism, ADHD, or other mental or physical is- sues. Some disabled workers may also be deal- ing with invisible disabilities like chronic fa- tigue syndrome, depression, or anxiety. The companies that have committed to this type of hiring have worked to create welcoming and supportive environments for people with dis- abilities and have found their workplaces, spec- trum of employee options, and bottom lines are better for doing so. Enlarging the pool of people a company can employ and considers employable makes good sense these days, but there are some things to consider when figur- ing out how to make people with physical or mental challenges comfortable and productive. IT'S ALL IN A NAME: TERMINOLOGY One of the first things that may need re- vision is how people who have traditionally been referred to as "physically or mentally chal- lenged," "differently abled," or "handicapped" are discussed. Let's take the term "different- ly abled," for instance. According to research, the phrase was created by the U.S. Democratic National Committee as an alternative to hand- icapped. The motivation behind the creation of the phrase was to eliminate the stigma that the word handicapped sometimes imposed. What it did instead, in the opinion of some, was to disguise the difficulties experienced by people who have serious physical or mental handicaps. Well-meaning in practice but not so great in execution. Still, most people want to refer to others re- spectfully and correctly, so when you're dis- cussing people with physical or mental chal- lenges (which, by the way, also isn't a great way to put things), what do you say instead? The first way to handle that question is simply to ask the person who is disabled what terms they prefer. Many may prefer "disabled" or "person with disabilities." Also, try to refer to the per- son first and the disability second. This sort Hiring Differently Abled Employees B U S I N E S S S T R A T E G I E S Understanding the correct terminology and creating a path to success B Y K R I S T I N E S H R E V E 4 0 G R A P H I C S P R O • D E C E M B E R 2 0 2 2 G R A P H I C S - P R O. C O M

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