It’s Time to Go All-In for Disability Inclusion

At Inclusivity, we know that when people with disabilities are fully included in their workplaces and communities, everyone benefits.

As civil rights attorneys, we have had a leading role in implementing sweeping federal law and policy changes geared towards helping people with disabilities transition out of segregated, subminimum wage jobs and into typical integrated employment at competitive wages.

But we also have seen how few resources there are to help organizations, businesses, and families navigate this new landscape.  As a result, the unemployment rate for people with disabilities remains stubbornly high and our country is missing out on the creativity and tenacity of a group of people who have a tremendous amount to contribute.

We started Inclusivity to fill that gap, and help organizations who want to do the right thing, to actually do the right thing – and rapidly scale up the integration of people with disabilities into the workforce. In fact, we need to scale up, and for people with disabilities to scale up and into typical jobs across various sectors of the economy.

We’re intimately familiar with new requirements relating to disability employment – and the array of resources available to help meet them.

Rather than maintaining a singular focus on penalizing bad actors, we also want to help organizations, businesses, and educational institutions be proactive and implement highly effective policies that move the needle in reducing the disability unemployment rate in a meaningful way.

Yes, we’re serious about that: actually reducing the disability unemployment rate! This goal isn’t as ambitious as it may sound. It’s achievable.

We’ve seen first-hand the benefits that accrue to organizations who commit to hiring and retaining people with disabilities – and fully integrating them into their workplaces.

Integrating people with disabilities increases productivity, creates efficiencies and strengths, and improves morale and creativity.

Employers today need problem-solvers, and no one is better equipped to solve problems and overcome challenges than a person who has learned to navigate the world with a disability.

Not only do people with even the most severe disabilities have a great deal to contribute, but the accommodations they need to do their jobs benefit everyone in the workplace – and can be implemented at little to no cost to the employer.

 So what makes Inclusivity different?

Our experience and knowledge of federal law makes us uniquely positioned to navigate rules and resources that, if used effectively, have the potential to create a sea-change in the country and assist efforts to end the unjustified segregation of people with disabilities once and for all.

There are new and emerging resources and strategies available for organizations to leverage these complementary requirements and laws to their advantage, and we know where to look.

That means providing resources to organizations, parents, and families to help young people with disabilities transition from school to work – without ever experiencing the low expectations and segregation of a sheltered workshop.

It means helping organizations build the internal capacity to implement and maintain accessible technology themselves, so that they don’t have to keep coming back for expert advice – the culture of inclusion and accessibility are hardwired in.

It means providing cutting edge advice on advancing disability inclusion efforts into any organization’s existing diversity and inclusion infrastructure

It means helping universities to institute best practices and national standards to enable students with disabilities to thrive academically and socially, to make significant contributions to the university environment, and to become successful alumni.

And it means bringing more transparency and accountability to supply chains so businesses can identify and divest from vendors who are exploiting people with disabilities. Businesses don’t tolerate exploitive or inhumane working conditions among vendors who employ non-disabled workers, and they shouldn’t tolerate it among vendors who employ people with disabilities either.

Ultimately, what is driving this change towards inclusion are not lawyers or words in statutes. It’s people with disabilities and their families who, for instance, can and want to learn, work, and play with non-disabled peers, and who reject isolation from the rest of society.

People with disabilities have been integrated in their schools, they know people without disabilities, and they’re going to insist on that going forward at work, and in their lives. They know they can contribute, and they’re not going to put up with being left out. We’re here to help advance those goals.

That’s good news for our workplaces, our economy and our country – because when we’re all in, we all win.