There is an increasing need in professional settings for intensive education around diversity, equity, and inclusion. More specifically, there is a desperate need for discourse about disability. Disabilities, both visible and invisible, can be intimidating to talk about in the workplace, but there is a way to have this vital conversion that is inclusive, collaborative, and active.
Disability consulting firms are organizations with consultants who are highly educated, emotionally intelligent, and personally motivated to transform the way that disability is handled in public, private, professional, and recreational spaces. A disability consulting firm guides groups through conversations about physical, mental, and social access in every setting for people with disabilities. What takes a disability consulting firm from good to great, though, is its ability to enthuse and motivate groups to feel empowered and confident in their inclusivity, rather than guilty or defensive.
What Should a Disability Consulting Firm Address?
It is a disability consulting firm's responsibility to educate a workforce or group about disability awareness, workplace program access, physical accessibility, and legal requirements. Most firms offer a curriculum that includes the following:
- An overview of relevant laws and regulations around accessibility
- Disability history and awareness, including the disability rights movement
- Disability etiquette
- What ableism is and why it is harmful
- Acceptable language around disability
- Hidden or non-apparent disabilities
- Digital accessibility
- Event accessibility
- Creating inclusive opportunities in the workplace
- Hiring and retaining disabled talent
Who Needs Disability Consulting Firms?
While all stakeholders are responsible for integrating and supporting people with disabilities in the workplace, some firms may find themselves in more immediate need than others. Your workplace may need to retain need the services of a disability consulting firm if
- Leadership is proactive. A good leader understands the value of bringing in professionals to teach their team the skills that will keep their business current, relevant, and exciting. By getting ahead of potential friction and retaining a disability consulting firm, leaders save money and retain employees by making their workplace safer and more inclusive.
- Internal efforts at bolstering disability visibility are not gaining traction. Many businesses have good intentions for improving diversity within their firm but may find their efforts being met with resentment or confusion. Furthermore, diversity hiring practices may fall short due to a lack of understanding of the appropriate etiquette when engaging a person with disabilities.
- There is a culture of outdated, offensive, and uninformed behavior and language. An outside consultant is uniquely positioned to bring employees up to speed on the acceptable language and attitudes around disability. They can help implement a culture shift within a workplace community.
- There’s been an incident. The need for disability consulting firms has sprung from the prevalence of ableist attitudes and outright discrimination, harassment, and even violence against people with disabilities. In these cases, it is crucial that businesses take stock and urgently inform and educate their workforce to prevent more incidents in the future.
What Will a Disability Consulting Firm Actually Do?
Once a disability consulting firm is retained, it will take several steps to define an actionable roadmap for success. It’s not enough to give a motivational speech or a single workshop; today’s firms gather data, measure attitudes, and build comprehensive plans for thorough, pervasive culture shifts around disabilities. The steps toward achieving this goal should include
Your disability consultant needs to ask questions of stakeholders and leadership, review current programs, and even sign NDAs to ensure that they clearly understand everything about a company: the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Based on their understanding of company culture and potential problem points, consultants will collaborate with leadership on what they see for the future of the business. After extensive consultation, both leadership and disability consultants will have a better understanding of where they need growth and where they need correction.
Making a Map to Track Success
Once the organization's goals are refined, a consultant should have a method for measuring the quantifiable results of their intervention. Furthermore, a consultant should always provide support with the next steps.
Disability consulting firm The Simmons Advantage can offer businesses all of the consulting services they need to be aware, supportive, and sensitive to their employees with disabilities. When you are ready to commit to inclusivity for all, get in touch to see what The Simmons Advantage can do for you.