There are more than one billion people with physical and mental disabilities in the world who must overcome challenges every day. One of those challenges is encountering other people. As a society, we are all different and must recognize the importance of acceptance.
Disability awareness is very important when it comes to breaking stereotypes and overcoming preconceptions regarding disabilities. Fortunately, there are many people interested in getting involved with disability awareness and often wonder how they can take part in making a change.
Why is Disability Awareness Important?
Millions of people with disabilities are likely to spend a lifetime of unemployment and dependency and about 74.6 million people have some type of physical disability in the U.S. Unfortunately, their employment and economic situation has not improved since the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 was signed into law. Our society is filled with prejudice and stereotypes towards disabled people.
Learning about disabilities, the ADA, and taking part in awareness actives and events is a step towards breaking these barriers and promoting change.
What Does Disability Awareness Mean?
Understanding that disability discrimination is unlawful is not enough anymore. A third of people entering the workforce today will become disabled by the time they retire. Disability Awareness means to educate people about disabilities, but also provide them with the knowledge on how to carry out tasks regarding disabilities. People can learn about disability awareness through classes, training courses, or even from disabled people. Learning acceptance is important but employers, businesses, and organizations must also understand compliance with the ADA. Ultimately as an employer, it is important to differentiate between what is good practice and what is not.
How to Promote Disability Awareness
The first step in promoting disability awareness is education. Unfortunately, there is a preconception in our society regarding disability. Sometimes there is avoidance, fear or discomfort that surrounds it. Some people often wonder what if it were them who was disabled. Disability Awareness Day is on July 16 and Disability Employment Awareness Month is every year in October, while Disability Awareness Week takes place every year during the spring towards the end of May and the beginning of June. These annual awareness dates are set in order to promote disabilities and educate people about them and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Though it’s a great idea to get involved with awareness activities on these days, you can promote disability awareness year-round. You can organize a disability awareness event on your school’s campus that educates students about disabilities. There are also many organizations and groups worth getting involved with that promote disability awareness. The organization RespectAbility helps reshape the attitudes of people with disabilities so that there is inclusion for everyone. Several schools also have awareness groups which put on events and educate the student body.
How to Teach Disability Awareness
More and more educators and trainers are working disability awareness into their teaching curriculums. It’s important that those teaching about disabilities and the laws also understand them. Additionally, parents are also teaching their kids about people with disabilities. How do we make sure we are providing students and children with the right information? The main things we should be teaching them is the importance of inclusion, understanding, and acceptance. Not everyone is the same.
Employers, too, must understand the laws surrounding disabilities. Disability discrimination is unlawful and employers and companies need to understand this. There is a portion of the Americans with Disabilities Act titled “Your Responsibilities as an Employer” which highlights which employment practices are covered under the act, who is protected, and who is covered. Employers can educate themselves by researching and reading this portion of the Americans with Disabilities Act, but also take classes and training regarding it.
Taking the time to research, participate and enroll in courses about disability awareness not only promotes education, but also allows people to share their understanding about disabilities, the laws, and importance of acceptance.