Disability has long been a term with a negative perception, and now it’s time to reset that.
Although 2020 and 2021 have not been the best years in history, one positive outcome that’s risen from this time is that people have finally shed light on societal issues. Still, one that we believe people should focus some more light on is disability awareness.
Society has been distant from the disability community, negatively impacting the disabled community for far too long.
Disability is more prevalent in our lives than we realise. Conditions vary. Some disabilities can be seen, and there are many that are not. Disability includes people that have both physical or mental impairments.
The lack of knowledge around what classifies as a disability has, up until now, been primarily responsible for growing these negative perceptions both nationally and across the globe.
The problem lies in the fact that these perceptions fuel exclusion in society, an exclusion that raises costs and impacts lives.
Additionally, research shows that living with a disability costs £583 on average per month.
Furthermore, for disabled people, it’s not just the financial cost. It’s also about having access to do what they want to do and be seen as more than their condition. According to a study conducted by Scope, one in three disabled people in Britain feels they face prejudice.
So, how can our society reset mindsets on disability?
The simple solution is education, accessibility and inclusion. Educate through campaigns on disability that clarify and explain accessibility as a standard in everything that we do from our digital lives to the built environment and thinking inclusively as the ‘new normal’.
If these elements were promoted in public life, our work-life, through influencers and thought leaders, organisations and most importantly, the government, there would be a positive shift towards breaking down these man-made barriers.
Thought Leaders & Influencers
People with a large following can help create a new meaning of disability. Luckily, many people are already altering the perceptions around it, but society needs to pick up the pace.
A great example of a leader raising awareness is a major league baseball player, Lou Gehrig. He became world-renowned for his ability to play exceptional ball, despite having a disability. Being so renowned helped raise awareness of his disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), making it one of the most historical moments in disability awareness. His legacy is still honoured to this day. On June 2nd of every year, his legacy is celebrated along with raising awareness on ALS.
Additionally, acknowledging Lou Gehrig helps the sport connect with the larger disability community.
Companies big and small need to cater for disabilities. Did you know that only 4% of businesses worldwide focus on making offerings inclusive of disability?
A government study states that among all the disabilities, mobility, stamina (or breathing or fatigue), and mental health impairments are the most prevalent disabilities across the country.
Does your business cater to at least one of these disabilities?
For disabled people, all they want businesses to do is level the playing field. Everyone needs a chance, which is part of our mission that has enabled over a quarter of a million people with health conditions to succeed in education and employment.
An organisation that has done a remarkable job in helping major companies agree to adopt disability inclusion within the workplace is The Valuable 500, which have now successfully reached over 500 private-sector corporations.
Our government already does a fairly good job, such as financial support and benefits and outlining the rights of disability members in society. Still, the momentum needs to be maintained and increased to ensure that we consistently meet the needs of the disabled community to eliminate inequality.
A study conducted by Scope outlines that even with the government benefits and support, costs of living with a disability are not fully covered by these support structures. Structures like Personal Independence Payment and Universal Credit need to be re-evaluated to determine the actual extra costs faced due to disability inequality.
People with disabilities deserve more. The more we speak out about these inequalities, the more support we will get, thus creating more awareness of disability in society and the workplace.
Sign the Trade Union Congress’s petition calling on the government to make it compulsory for employers to publish their disability pay gaps. Mandatory disability pay gap reporting would mean employers would need to identify and address poor workplace practices that lead to inequality.
It’s about time to reset the mindset on disability.
Disability is a lot deeper than what’s on the surface. With 60% of Britain’s population underestimating the number of disabled people there are, we need to come together to understand and cater to everyone to create an equal society for all.
By shifting everyone’s mindset through education and accessibility, we can achieve equality and inclusion for everyone. It will take time, and there’s no guarantee that it will be smooth sailing, but it’s evident that action needs to be taken.
That’s why we support businesses, schools, universities to achieve accessibility and inclusion in the workplace. We are helping companies to develop their relationship with the disability community through accessibility solutions.
Disabled people represent a unique diversity that needs to be understood worldwide.