Today, as is customary, in observance of International Day of Persons with Disabilities, let us spend a few moments reflecting on the theme for this year which is: “Transformative solutions for inclusive development: the role of innovation in fueling an accessible and equitable world “.
This 2022 global observance will be focusing on the following three thematic topics:
1. Innovation for disability inclusive development in employment (SDG8): The linkages between employment, knowledge and skills required to access employment in an innovative, rapidly changing technological landscape to all and how assistive technologies can increase accessibility to employment and be mainstreamed in the workplace.
2. Innovation for disability inclusive development in reducing inequality (SDG10): Innovations, practical tools, and good practices to reduce inequalities in both public and private sectors, which are disability inclusive and interested in promoting diversity in the workplace.
3. Innovation for disability inclusive development: sport as an exemplar case: a sector where all these aspects coalesce; sport as a good practice example and a site of innovation, employment, and equity.
There can be no doubt that the world is at a critical moment and as such, it is time to act and find joint solutions in building a more sustainable and resilient world for all and for the generations to come. The complex and interconnected crises facing humanity today, including the shocks resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine and other countries, a tipping point in climate change, all pose humanitarian challenges of an unprecedented nature, as well as threats to the global economy.
This year, I wish to encourage all Guyanese to recognize visible and invisible disabilities and to promote the importance of inclusion in life and the workplace. Today, on behalf of the National Commission on Disability, I wish to encourage all business leaders across Guyana to value the unique contributions of Persons with Disabilities.
What we need to recognize in Guyana is that not all disabilities are visible. Some disabilities, like mental health disorders, chronic pain, and fatigue, are invisible – but that does not make them any less devastating to someone’s quality of life.
This year, let us all include invisible disabilities in our inclusion initiatives to recognize International Day of Persons with Disabilities.
How about these suggestions for you:
1. Host a Training Session: The best way to ignite meaningful change in your workplace is to host a disability training session. Anyone can be affected by a disability, so it is important to ensure all employees understand the importance of accessibility to cultivate an inclusive culture.
In this regard, please take note that the National Commission on Disability offers sensitization sessions, (both in person and virtual) to various entity. Kindly contact us at NCD to schedule your session. There are many benefits to you, in doing these sessions such as:
1. Improve Customer Service: Employees who recognize different conditions will better serve your customers, who may have such disorders.
2. Learn the Legal Requirements: Reduce the risk of legal implications or unfair treatment by learning about our legislation: The Persons with Disabilities Act 2010.
3. Encourage Open Communication: Persons with Disabilities live with their conditions every day, so training can supply well-being support through open communication.
4. Transform Perceptions: Reduce unconscious bias and misinformation through an informative training session, which informs your non-disabled staff.
5. Validate staff with disabilities: A training session will show employees with disabilities that their feelings, experiences, and struggles are valid.
2. Recognize Neurodiversity: This is one of the most common invisible disabilities, it is vital to recognize neurodiversity in your workplace. These persons view the world uniquely, as their brains are wired differently from their non-disabled counterparts. Examples of neurodiversity include ADHD, Autism, Dyspraxia, Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Dysgraphia and Tourette’s Syndrome. Neurodiversity defines natural variations of the human brain which influence their cognitive and intellectual processes.
3. Improve Accessibility & Inclusion: In the workplace, several common hurdles can prevent disabled employees from performing at their best. From wheelchair ramps to screen readers, and braille signage to accessible toilets, it is important to cater to employees with all abilities and consider how your workplace may impact a Person with a Disability. On this International Day of Persons with Disability, I charge you to create an accessible environment for everyone in your team. Examples of Accessibility in the Workplace include Wheelchair Ramps/Lifts, Quiet Rooms for Noise Sensitivity, Braille Signage, Adaptive Desks & Chairs and investing in Digital Accessibility Tools.
I recognize that it is simply impossible to solve the world’s inequalities in a single day, so today, the charge to you, dear Reader, and Employer, is to make a meaningful pledge to celebrate diversity, value accessibility and serve your employees with disabilities this International Day of Persons with Disabilities. Going forward, learn from the experts, reach out to the National Commission on Disability, and implement genuine changes in your workplace which will benefit your staff with disability. There are so many meaningful pledges you can make to commemorate today such as contacting us at the NCD (Commission) to see what projects you can get involved with and how you can donate to various disability projects, strengthen your Discrimination Policies, Improve Accessibility e.g., Wheelchair Ramps, Assess Your Employees’ Diversity, Employ Persons with Disabilities and Make a Public Statement of Support.
I look forward to hearing from you all and working together to promote and protect the rights of Persons with Disabilities in Guyana
Mrs. Vidushi Persaud-McKinnon
Chair (Ag) of the National Commission on Disability