Today, December 3rd, marks the International Day of Persons with Disabilities as first proclaimed by the United Nations General Counsel in 1992. Fifteen percent of the world’s population—over one billion people—live with some type of disability. The theme of this year’s commemoration is: empowering persons with disabilities and ensuring inclusiveness and equality.
The discussion around the theme of empowering persons with disabilities sparks conversations around the world about how best to do just that. Here at The Fedcap Group, we spend every day testing and implementing innovative strategies to change the life experience for people with disabilities. Our goal is to design and refine precise interventions to break through the barriers that interfere with an equal platform.
Through our many companies of The Fedcap Group, we break the process of “empowering” into specific, sustainable practices that can be replicated world-wide. These include innovative approaches to skill-building and employer-based training in high demand sectors, job placement, job coaching, and long-term career planning. Our efforts are fueled by partnerships with businesses and organizations who share our commitment to empowerment. This is the work that has propelled us forward throughout our 80+ year history.
Key to being on the foreground of system change is asking the question WHAT ELSE? While we have come a long way, what else can we do to break down barriers for those with disabilities? What else can we do to create access and equity? What else can we do to eliminate stigma?
Sometimes it starts with us. What do we believe about the capacity of people with disabilities to work in competitive employment settings? Are there any biases we hold that impact our ability to help a person with a disability dream big dreams? As sad as it is, sometimes the helping profession is an unwitting ally to those who would segregate.
Sometimes it starts with families. In our work with individuals with developmental disabilities, from time to time we meet families who are fearful of having their adult child enter the competitive workforce, because they fear their loved one may be subjected to ridicule or embarrassment. And the truth is they might be. Helping families see the importance of their child taking a risk, making their way in the world, feeling pride in earning a paycheck overcomes the fear.
Sometimes it starts with business. Businesses are interested in making a profit. And they are interested in community engagement. The Fedcap Group partners with over 6000 businesses across the country. While in the beginning businesses may be skeptical, we find that our business partners are delighted by both the productivity and the spirit and work ethic that people with disabilities bring to the workplace. We have heard time and again that the presence of those with a disability raises the caliber of the culture and the integrity of the workforce around them.
What is your approach to working with those with disabilities? What are the “what else can we do” questions that you are considering in order to achieve equity and inclusion?
As always, I welcome your thoughts.