Equity in Education and Employment: Do we accommodate or do we adapt?
Persons with disabilities face barriers in accessing education and employment. All over the world, young people with disabilities are often denied their right to education or work because of discriminating attitudes or because an environment is not equipped to accommodate specific needs.
In order to achieve real equality, the following must be addressed:
- changing attitudes regarding what people with disabilities are capable of doing
- providing accommodation which includes increased accessibility, better health benefits, more flexible work scheduling; and
- employment equity; adequate representation of individuals with disabilities
Many qualified people with disabilities want to work, but cannot because employment opportunities are extremely limited. Companies and governments must often provide costly funds in order to create equal access. Work ensures the economic self-sufficiency of people with disabilities.
While all these accommodations are imperative to integrating people with disabilities into schools and the workplace, the underlying attitude is that disability presents a problem that can be fixed. An alternative approach, instead, recognizes the skills, merits, abilities and contributions of persons with disabilities to the workplace. It works closely in line with the principles of universal design that all people will benefit from an approach that meets the needs of everyone.
Suggestions for making a workplace more accessible:
- incorporate barrier-free and universal design;
- provide adapted equipment (also known as assistive devices and adaptive technology) such as computer applications and computer work stations;
- allow for a flexible work schedule, such as working at home and more hours on certain days
- teach workers about disability issues.
Source: Canadian Health Network