- June 28, 2022

When I look back to my late 20s, as a young woman, out of college and looking forward to being employed, I worried most that ‘the fear’ that I experienced – that it would hold me back. Around this time, I did receive a mental health diagnosis which sort of shaped my experience of the workplace.

Then, less confident, mostly uncertain about my skill sets, and quite unenthusiastic about being formally employed if ‘the fear’ would keep holding me back, did not make for a good combination. 

Here is a one-minute remembrance to that period. I have also written pieces about this period and what these experiences meant to me, as a young person seeking work.

I tend to think that these experiences could be universal for many a young person with disabilities seeking work. The young woman with a physical disability, among others, may worry if the workplace will be physically accessible to her, if the washroom will be accessible to her. How it may be costly using taxis each day because the public transport is not accessible to her. The young man who is deaf may worry that a potential employer may refuse to hire him discriminatorily even though he makes the qualification. The young blind woman may worry that her employer may refuse to avail her of assistive technologies that support her to work on an equal basis as others. The list goes on and on... I, on many occasions, worried that the fear I experienced could be an impediment to my being hired.

So what actually changed? Did I stop experiencing fear? I did not. But I received huge support from people who believed in my skill set. Who saw me as an asset to the workplace. What changed for the young lady, young man who is deaf, who is blind, who is autistic, who has dyslexia, who has a physical disability. What has changed and why did they achieve excellence within their workplace?

Maybe the attitudes of their workmates changed and they say them as assets within the workplace. Maybe their employers saw what inclusion in the workplace could do. What a diverse workforce could achieve. How diverse experiences strengthened the workforce.

What may have changed for all of these young persons with disabilities to fully enjoy their right to work and employment? What might we want to change still? What, then, does inclusion look like in the workplace?   

For me, inclusion looks like community. All those people who have supported me, not only to actualize my potential, but to work together with other work colleagues to realize our work vision. It has meant employers and team leaders who cared, who were kind, and empathetic. Who asked, ‘how can we support you to achieve that which we all envision?’  

Let us join a growing community of activists with disabilities who are demonstrating the positive impact of inclusion in the workplace. Let us inspire each other to be more inclusive.

Tell us then, what does inclusion mean to you? #InclsuiveFutures #IDAInclusiveWork