December '22

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G R A P H I C S - P R O. C O M D E C E M B E R 2 0 2 2 • G R A P H I C S P R O 4 1 of approach would lead you to say, "per- son who uses a wheelchair" vs. "wheel- chair user." The first phrase emphasizes the person, while the second focuses on that person's mode of movement. Another thing to be aware of is occa- sions when you may be referencing the disability of a person or group when it isn't warranted. Talking about accessi- bility when you're planning a meeting or conference makes sense, as you want to make it easy for everyone to attend. Saying the dyslexics will need an audio version of the instructions for this machine does not make sense. Instead, say, "We need to make sure these instructions are acces- sible for all employees," which is much more inclusive and doesn't single out any one group. Also, avoid any discussion or portray- al on a website, company video, etc. that describes employees with disabilities as inspirational or courageous. Some peo- ple call this "inspiration porn." This is a form of propaganda that implies that liv- ing with a disability is so terrible that sim- ply getting through the day/living a nor- mal life is inspirational. Keep in mind that disabled people are simply people — al- beit ones with a disability — and are not living in the world to provide a "there but for the grace of God go I" moment or a daily hit of inspiration for the rest of us. Those with disabilities simply want to be accepted as themselves, not as living mo- tivational posters. YOU CAN ACCOMMODATE PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES — ASK THEM HOW The main goal of any DEI program should be to make everyone feel a part of the workplace and comfortable within that space. The best way to do that is to ask people what they need to do their work in the most efficient way possible and how you can help them perform at their highest level. Don't assume you know how people want to be referred to, and don't assume you know what they need. Someone who is disabled has had far more experience in navigating the world and living with their disability than you have. Instead of assuming they need special treatment or implementing expensive accommodations that the employee may not want or need, simply ask them what will work for them and then implement those things. Also, make sure that accommodations for those with disabilities aren't promot- ed excessively, as though your company has gone to great lengths or done a great thing. Providing a translator for Jane in Shipping, who's deaf and speaks only us- ing American Sign Language, should be considered the same as getting a chair with lumbar support for John in Accounting, who has a bad back. Accommodations should be treated simply as ways to help each employee provide their peak per- formance and be comfortable and hap- py while they're doing it. Companies that Enlarging the pool of people a company can employ and considers employable makes good sense these days.

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