By Tamar Savir | Medium, October 25th, 2021 We kicked off the #NoMouseVMware challenge this week, inviting employees to navigate a website or a tool for 30 minutes using only the keyboard. Not everyone relies on a mouse or a trackpad when using their computers. The general “cat” population may be surprised to know there […]
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"Along with many others, I have dedicated many years to advocating for people with disabilities, and I stand proudly by NOD’s mission to recognize everyone’s abilities and talents, especially in the workforce. I encourage all companies (especially those in the media and entertainment fields) to see people with disabilities as they are —productive, resilient, and hard working. People with disabilities can do anything if they are given the opportunity."
Fortunately, some best-in-class employers are already creating inclusive workplaces and removing barriers for PWD to find jobs. Every year, the National Organization on Disability (NOD) recognizes these top companies for not only leading the way in inclusion, but also for tapping into the many benefits that come with hiring talent with disabilities, which include high rates of productivity, strong dedication, and greater engagement at work.
Sixty-seven companies were honored as 2021 NOD Leading Disability Employers. Now in its seventh year, the NOD Leading Disability Employer Seal recognizes companies for measuring and achieving strong talent outcomes for people with disabilities. With this recognition, NOD endeavors to shine a light on those employers that are committed to building an inclusive workforce by adopting exemplary employment practices for people with disabilities.
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Today, hundreds of diversity and inclusion leaders from global companies attended the National Organization on Disability’s (NOD) Annual Forum. Academy Award winner Marlee Matlin kicked off the two-hour virtual showcase entitled, “Leadership Council Forum: Disability Inclusion in the Next Normal” with an inspiring keynote address. Emceed by actress Santina Muha, the Forum addressed the challenges that business leaders continue to face in a shifting economy and post-COVID era as they prepare to bring employees back to the office or continue providing a remote work environment. It also unpacked the opportunities the global pandemic has afforded employees with disabilities as it relates to digital accessibility, mental health programs and better workplace flexibility.
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“The employment rate of people with disabilities has remained far too low, both before and during the pandemic," said Distinguished Professor Douglas Kruse, co-director of the Rutgers Program for Disability Research in the School of Management and Labor Relations. "The collaboration with NOD is an exciting and unprecedented approach to develop solid evidence-based data on employer practices that can improve disability employment outcomes and help companies make use of underutilized human resources.”
Watch video from NOD's Chairman
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“It’s been really incredibly liberating to be in any context and say, ‘Yep, I can hop right in,'” Das said.
Das, who also lip reads, says it’s also good to think about how in-person office policies, such as mask mandates, will affect people with disabilities.
“What might that mean for employees who might have a cognitive disability, or employees who might be deaf?” said Das. “I’m really thinking holistically about how the office is organized.”
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As businesses bring people back to the office, they are keenly aware that some employees will have difficulty adjusting to the “next normal” in the workplace, juggling expectations at home and in the office.
Company managers need to keep in mind that they may be supervising “long haulers,” or people who have long-term mental health and physical issues caused by COVID-19. This not only could have an impact on employees but on a business’ work productivity. Anxiety and depression are real, and as a nation, we need to take action and help each other. It may be challenging to deal with the stigma of those mental illnesses, but the consequences of not acting — lost productivity, lost workdays, and in the extreme, suicide — are far greater.
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Today, as we celebrate the 31st anniversary of the ADA, we also celebrate the strength and resilience of our chairman, who as a congressman voted for the passage of the ADA and has dedicated his life to promoting the ADA’s principles of ensuring that every American has a right and an opportunity to participate in our economic progress.
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