Many people with disabilities (PwD) do not talk about
their condition in the workplace because they worry about how others will treat them. At the same time, there are many people who want to be supportive of their coworkers with disabilities, but they never start the conversation because they worry about making PwD uncomfortable.
Here are some actions you can take to make it known that you are an ally for people with disabilities, whether or not they choose to disclose their disabilities.
- Display the VOICE symbol in your office and/or wear the lapel pin to signal that you are open to discussing tough issues related to a person’s disability.
- Demonstrate in words and actions that you value all types of diversity and explicitly include disability in your advocacy.
- Speak up when you hear others make disrespectful comments or jokes about people with disabilities to let them know you think such remarks are offensive.
- Remember that most disabilities are unseen—do not assume someone is not living with a disability.
- Respect the privacy of people with disabilities if they want their situation to remain confidential.
- Provide the same access to coaching and career development opportunities to people with disabilities as other valued employees receive (if you are a supervisor).
- Include people with disabilities in the social aspects of the workplace to foster camaraderie and provide internal networking opportunities.
- Speak up when a company activity is in the planning stages—whether on site or off—to insure that it is inclusive and accessible. Address the situation head on when it is not.