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National AccessAbility Week: Workplace Inclusion

This week is National AccessAbility Week!

In Canada, we celebrate National AccessAbility Week (NAAW) every year starting on the last Sunday in May. The week raises awareness about accessibility and inclusion of people with disabilities in Canadian communities and workplaces. In 2019, National Accessibility Week takes place from Sunday, May 26th until Saturday, June 1st.

Workplace Inclusion

National AccessAbility Week is about promoting the inclusion of people with disabilities in work and community life. A key part of this inclusion is the willingness of employers to hire workers with disabilities. Workplace inclusion allows workers with disabilities, like all other workers, to use their skills, be part of communities of colleagues, and support themselves.

Inclusive Interviews

Workplaces interested in hiring candidates with disabilities can partner with organizations that connect workplaces with qualified job candidates who have disabilities. HR personnel and other staff responsible for hiring should also be prepared to interview job candidates who disclose that they have disabilities. This preparation is important, since many candidates choose not to disclose before interviews.

Interviews can be opportunities for employers to learn about how a person with a disability can perform job tasks and what accommodations they need. As a result, interviewers should know what they should and should not ask about when interviewing a candidate with a disability. For instance, they can ask how a candidate would perform the tasks involved in the job. However, they should not ask personal questions about the candidate’s disability, such as their diagnosis or how long they have been disabled.

Accommodations

Once they hire workers with disabilities, workplaces must provide any accommodations their new employees need. For instance, some accommodations may include:

  • Scheduling accommodations, such as shifts at certain times or short but frequent breaks
  • Information in accessible formats or with communication supports
  • Task-swapping with colleagues
  • Structural changes, such as automatic doors or accessible washrooms

Workplaces must also provide accommodations for current employees who become disabled. They must also accommodate employees who return to work after a leave of absence. There is national, provincial, and local funding available to cover the cost of renovations or equipment.

Finally, employers and colleagues should make sure workers with disabilities are included in any team building or social events. For instance, colleagues can choose places and activities that are accessible for a worker with a disability. To make sure they do so, they could:

  • Involve the worker in the planning stages
  • Invite the worker to be part of a workplace social committee
  • Ask the worker to recommend accessible locations or things to do

Workplace inclusion gives employers access to a pool of talented workers and gives people with disabilities the chance to make a difference in the world around them.