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Disability during the pandemic

Updated: Mar 23, 2022

For today’s flavour of Secret Sauce, we're going to discuss the largely overlooked and/or misunderstood topic of disability and how to shift one’s perception towards individuals with disabilities, the opportunities that they are presented with, and how they are treated across society — from employment, to healthcare, to social infrastructure. A shift is necessary in perception and attitude, and would lead to greater equity and access to opportunity.

The civil rights of Persons with Disabilities — and the work of acknowledging, defining, and creating environments where infrastructural accessibility is accounted for — are often understood as siloed subjects, meaning that they are only important for a specific social demographic, but what the COVID-19 pandemic has shown all of us, in numerous ways, is that the attitudes around working from home and being more flexible in how one works with others need to be re-evaluated. A greater acceptance of different needs has emerged, with companies and employers taking more time and making conscious best-practice policy changes to accommodate Persons With Disabilities.

This is all very important and a welcome shift, but it is still not enough. Much like social media posts have Calls-to-Action (CTA), society as a whole needs a CTA that not only changes the attitude and perception towards disability across a broad spectrum but creates actionable opportunities. How can this daunting task be done?

It’s important to realize that no one is to tell or ask a person with a disability to adapt to situations; instead, realize that adapting is what individuals with varying abilities do every single day. To be more equitable, here are some actions that companies, and their employers and employees can undertake instead:

  • Incorporate a person-first approach in your company culture. Don’t assume an individual’s capabilities and needs for accommodations. Always talk to them (and not down to them) about their challenge, if they have a visible disability and assistive equipment.

  • Allocate time and company solutions to address mental health and its correlation to physical health. Learn mindfulness practices, for example, and engage with different types for welln

  • Evaluate and stay ahead of professional opportunities to be unique in your work. Breakfast Culture has a wide range of services, from full DEI audits to mediated “safe space” conversations to our Ally is a Verb workshops on disability, to help employers better understand their workers’ needs.

The World Health Organization in February 2022 urged countries to make support for the growing number of people dealing with “long COVID” a priority. New research is revealing that up to 20 percent of those recovering still have debilitating symptoms for months afterwards. Doctor Harry Paul and advocate Imani Barbarin have called this “a mass disability event.” A change in learning and understanding is imminent and we can use this crisis to create an ecosystem to foster action and equity. Breakfast Culture Founder and CEO Jefferson Darrell is happy to jump on a call to discuss how Breakfast Culture can help with your organizational diversity and inclusion journey. Schedule a 30-minute meeting today: Let's Break Some Eggs! – Jess Silver, JEDI Consultant

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