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Category: World

It’s time to include people with a learning disability in the workplace.

This week an article came across my desk about how people with learning disability need increased work opportunities. My blog this week highlights the challenges people with learning disability face in the work place and some possible solutions to these challenges.

The article that captured my interest by Saba Salman illustrates the employment situation in the United Kingdom for people with a learning disability. In the UK, just 5.8% of people with a learning disability are employed compared to 74% of people without a disability.

The employment situation for people with a learning disability in Australia is also quite poor.  Down Syndrome Victoria confirming that in 2015 only 6 per cent of people with a learning disability were employed, and unfortunately these figures haven’t changed much since then.

 

‘You have to give learning disabled people the opportunity to prove themselves’

Anthony Knight fulfilled a childhood dream when he became an arboretum horticulturalist at Kew Gardens. But it took him nine attempts over five years before finally landing the job in November, despite having done work experience and an apprenticeship at the world-renowned botanical gardens in south-west London.

What is a learning disability?

A learning disability is a neurological disorder that affects the brain’s ability to process information. This can impact on a person ability to process information: listening, speaking, reading, writing, reasoning, or mathematical abilities.

In spite of the above figures, people with learning disability make extremely valuable workers.

The Learning Disabilities Association of America wrote that people with learning disability have be known to be creative, persistent, loyal, and good problem-solvers. They can achieve a high degree of success in the workplace when the disability is accommodated. Some successful people who have learning disabilities include Sir Richard Branson and Bill Gates.

As shown above, people with learning disability can be successful when their disability is accommodated. However often it’s not, especially if people don’t disclose their learning disability. A learning disability may be invisible. Due to this people can have a dilemma regarding whether to disclose their disability to employers.

Journalist Eli Epson discussed the anxiety people feel about disclosing their learning disability. When college graduate Tom Reed secured a position he was faced with the anxiety of whether or not to disclose his learning disability. Due to fear of being stigmatized he decided not to disclose. If employees don’t disclose this information, they can’t get the support they may need.

Accommodations can be simple

In an article by Clive Hopkins, he shows a case where an employer took positive steps to accommodate a workers dyslexia. The employee found making bookings challenging, but had strong verbal communication. The employer changed this persons duties to focus on greeting customers.

The University of Western Sydney showed some of the challenges people with a learning disability may face at work. It may take more effort and time for people with a learning disability to read through written materials and process numbers. They sometimes have problems receiving and processing new and a lot of information orally. They can have trouble adapting to changes in processes and duties.

Some solutions to these problems could be to give instructions both in written formats and orally. Workplaces could allow workers to have regular breaks, especially in meetings or group sessions.

Although this may look daunting for employer’s, Disability Employment Services (DES) can help employees and employers overcome these challenges. They can provide support such as mentoring or financial assistance.

My blog piece certainly wasn’t written to provide all the solutions to the employment situation for people with a learning disability. However, what I’ve tried to convey that people with learning disabilities, like all other disabilities can make highly valuable employees.

If employers overlook this, they could be missing out. There can be challenges but these can be overcome.

Let’s start the discussion to include people with learning disability in the workforce.

 

 

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Disability discrimination occurs on a daily basis in our society, why is it still happening?

As a person with a disability I often wonder why we, people with disability, are still denied equal rights in 2017…

The Disability Discrimination Act was enacted in 1992, however disability discrimination occurs on a daily basis in our society. Professor Roberto Saba wrote an article expressing similar sentiments, entitled ‘Around the Globe People with Disabilities Face Unseen Discrimination we must do better’.

In this article, Professor Saba discusses the prevalence of structural inequality, experienced by people with disability on a worldwide scale.

Professor Saba believes that to understand why people with disability do not have equal rights, one needs to understand the difference between legal equality and real equality.

Legal equality involve citizens having the right to fair treatment under the law. However, real equality requires governments dismantling structures that perpetuates disadvantage among minority groups. One way governments can achieve this is by implementing policies such as affirmative action (preferential treatment) for minority groups.

Read the article here

 

Around the globe, people with disabilities face unseen discrimination. We must do better.

In Argentina, there is no formal or legal barrier to women becoming judges. But according to a 2013 report, 56% of Inferior Judges, 67% of Appeal Judges and 78% of State Justices in Argentinean courts are men. Why should this be the case? The answer is, of course, structural inequality.

 

Currently in Australia people with disability experience severe levels of disadvantage in comparison to people without a disability. In a submission by the National Disability Services Victoria (NDSV), they stated that 43% of people with a disability rely on income support as their main source of income.

They claimed that 53% of people with a disability are employed compared to 83% of people without a disability.

Employees with disability have a significantly lower income of $400 per week compared with $750 per week for people without a disability. The NDSV wrote that the government has a large role to play in addressing these grim statistics.

What I’ve discussed so far may appear discouraging. However, it is beyond time for the government to acknowledge and dismantle the structural barriers people with disability face.

A researcher Mark Sherry claimed that the removal of structural barriers requires government investment in transport, buildings, communication and education infrastructure. Another researcher Rose Galvan claimed that further structural changes are required to dismantle the barriers people with disability face.

These changes may include adaptions to the built environments to make public places physical accessible. This requires a great investment by the government, however the question remains will governments be willing to do this?

In fact some may claim that government occasionally benefits from maintaining some of the structural disadvantage confronted by people with disability.

Researcher Alan Morris states that in the current labour market, values of profit margins, efficiency and productivity are predominant, making it difficult for people with disability to compete with other employees.  Some policy makers prefer economic rationalism, so equal opportunities for people with disability in the workplace wouldn’t appeal to them.

Is it all doom and gloom?

Although, it may seem doom and gloom, people with a disability have come a long way in trying to achieve equality. However, there is a long way to go before we are all on an even par.

We must urge policy makers to eradicate structural barriers preventing us to achieve equality. I strongly believe it can happen. I know that professor Saba is right in saying people with disability need real equality.

Let’s start the discussion and turn the dream of real equality for people with disability into a reality!

 

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