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Table of Contents

Take care of your people and protect your business

There are millions of adults in the U.S. living with a disability, many with untapped skills and potential. As an employer, you can build a more diverse and inclusive work environment by training your workforce to be more aware and knowledgeable about individuals with disabilities. Continue reading to learn how.

What Is Disability Training?

Disability training is intended to give individuals the awareness, knowledge, and skills to practice inclusive behavior and provide more accessibility to people with disabilities.

Why is Disability Training in the Workplace Important?

According to the CDC, as of 2018, 1 in 4 adults in the U.S. are living with a disability. Unfortunately, for many of these individuals finding employment is challenging and they are unable to find jobs that align with their skills or experience.

  • Avoid discrimination. Federal laws prohibit discrimination against individuals with disabilities. Many times, this type of discrimination may not be intentional but stem from unconscious biases or lack of education. Each year, several thousand disability discrimination cases are filed with the EEOC. Hosting and participating in disability training could help your business avoid disability discrimination and any potential claims that follow.
  • Diversity and inclusion. By now we are all well aware that a diverse workforce is a more productive and satisfied one. DE&I efforts stretch beyond ethnic, gender or racial backgrounds. They should include all individuals, including those with disabilities. Disability training goes beyond the borders of your internal workforce as well. It can also help make customers with disabilities or other stakeholders with disabilities more comfortable.
  • Awareness. Disability training can bring to light unconscious bias, challenge attitudes and stereotypes, educate individuals on disabilities, and bring understanding about the issues people with disabilities face. It can remove barriers to working with people with disabilities and shed light on positive solutions so that workplaces are able to thrive.

Types of Disability Training in the Workplace

There are different types of disability training, so it will be important to understand your objectives when choosing a training. Know that some options may be blended. Some vendors even provide assessments for your managers or workforce to help you better assess your opportunities as it relates to disability awareness.

Awareness training

Disability awareness training is intended to challenge unconscious biases, raise understanding through education and build confidence in those interacting with people who have disabilities. Typically, participants learn about different types of disabilities, reasonable accommodations, communication guidance, and appropriate language. It can help companies create a more inclusive environment that celebrates diversity and empowers employees both with and without disabilities.

Technology

Some vendors will offer training on assistive technology, which is technology (equipment, software, or other items) that creates or improves accessibility for those with a disability. Training may consist of a general overview of what assistive technology is and what it can do for you, or it may consist of training on a specific piece of technology.

Legal or Compliance

Both the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA, 1990) and the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA, 2008) aim to protect individuals with disabilities from discrimination and ensure reasonable accommodations are provided whenever possible. Many law firms host webinars or live conference-style training that addresses ADA, applicable case law, interplay with other laws, and best practices as it relates. It’s important for workplaces to understand their legal obligations and be able to react appropriately.

Specific Impairments

Some vendors will provide training on specific disabilities, like vision or hearing impairments or cognitive disabilities. This may be useful if you are interested in targeting recruitment or retention efforts, have individuals with one of these impairments and want to build an inclusive workplace or if you simply want to provide additional education to your workers. Additionally, if you are in an industry like health care and have patients or customers with some of these disabilities, you could offer training to your staff so they are more knowledgeable about the impairment and feel more confident in their customer or patient interactions, regardless of their specific position.

How To Provide Disability Training in the Workplace

There are a few different platforms you can use to provide disability training for your workplace and there are options that work for both in-office and remote workforces.

Live Training

Live training, or classroom style training, could be a lecture or discussion, or consist of interactive exercises.

Web-Based

Web-based training could be webinar-style group training where the instructor either lectures or provides tools for an interactive experience. Web-based training could also be self-paced, independent learning where the individual moves through the material at a rate that works best for them. Both of these options work very well for remote groups.

Blended Learning

Blended learning is a combination of these different learning styles and can be customized based on the group’s needs.

Vendor Selection

Regardless of the platform and method you choose to deliver the training, it’s important to select a vendor that will meet the needs of your organization. Consider your budget, learning objectives, and time frame for when you would like the training to be rolled out and completed. Your time frame should also account for any internal communication leading up to the training as well as the length of the training itself. From there you can begin online research or ask for recommendations in HR forums like those on LinkedIn or the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

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Questions You’ve Asked Us About Disability Training

It’s important to be aware of any state or local requirements that may impact the frequency of training, but a good rule of thumb would be to do annual disability training.
Disability training ranges in cost with free options and paid options. It will be important to determine if there is information you would like to have provided during the training. You’ll also want to determine your timeline and budget, as well as whether you want the training to be facilitated, online, self-paced, etc. Choose a vendor or product based on what works best for your business.
There are options for disability training online. A quick internet search for “Disability Training” will provide options. You can also check the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) [https://askjan.org/solutions/Disability-Awareness-Etiquette-Training.cfm] for more information on vendors and products.

Colleen manages a team of HR consultants that work with a variety of industries, specializing in the fields of human resources, strategic planning, and human capital management. Colleen applies expert knowledge, industry experience, and relentless energy to solving companies’ issues. She is a member of the Society for Human Resource Management as well as women in leadership groups. She is PHR, SPHR, and SHRM-SCP certified. She has an awesome pet cat, Attila and, when she’s not working she loves to travel, enjoy the great outdoors, and volunteer with different local charities.

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