From accessible amusement parks to local summer camps for students with special needs, inclusivity is, slowly but surely, beginning to gain ground here in Maryland and across the country. This past June, the CBS network signed a pledge vowing to regularly include performers with disabilities in auditions for their productions,(1) while Nike unveiled para-sport mannequins at its main London store.(2)
Greater inclusivity benefits everyone, from the individual to the school or business itself. Research has shown that more inclusive businesses are also more successful, with higher revenue and net income than less inclusive businesses.(3) Schools that are inclusive benefit all students by offering a range of supports and services.
How can you make your school or business more inclusive? Here are 4 ideas for cultivating and creating a diverse environment that is beneficial to everyone:
No one wants to go to work or attend school in an environment that isn’t warm or welcoming. One of the biggest problems that people with disabilities face is the lack of understanding found in the people around them. Do what you can to foster understanding within your organization. At school, teachers can use books and other media to help teach students about different disabilities, including the ones that aren’t always “visible” (like ADHD or dyslexia). Sesame Street has become a great tool for younger children, with a website containing programming that is devoted to preventing bullying and understanding others.(4)
For businesses, consider training programs or similar resources. Repeat any trainings or programs often and really put them into practice within your organization. Hang inclusive posters and send out emails that use inclusive language to promote an environment of support.
Consider the Individual Student or Employee
Everyone learns differently. In schools, teachers should try to embrace a method that incorporates the various styles of learning. Flexible seating is an option that has become increasingly popular in schools, as has coverings for harsh fluorescent lighting, water bottles at student desks, and demands for greater recess time. Students who are natural fidgeters will benefit from sensory tools, as will students with autism and ADHD.
In business, hold work meetings or trainings with a variety of tools available in the center of the table for different listening styles. Squeezing a stress ball or clicking a pen helps many employees concentrate more effectively. Include visuals in your presentations for visual learners. For breaks, offer a quiet break room for those employees who wish to turn off the stimulation of the workday.
These are all things that exist without singling out anyone; all can benefit from these tools.
Encourage Diverse Groups or Clubs
Clubs are often an important part of school life. Forming support clubs based around disabilities, and making it a point to let people who have a disability know that they are welcome to any club, will go a long way toward creating an inclusive environment. In business, create a diversity team or another similar type of group that lets employees or volunteers with special needs share their ideas freely with others. Make it a point to show that you value the diversity at your organization. Remember that if the person at the top of the organization is valuing diversity, then everyone will begin to value diversity.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions
It sounds so simple, but asking a person with a disability what would help them feel comfortable at your organization will provide insight beyond anything offered in books or on the web. Asking someone what they need also shows that you’re serious about making your organization a more inclusive place, which is the most important part of all. Don’t just talk; take action.
Neurobehavioral Associates regularly attends IEP meetings and presents lectures on topics that can help make your school or organization more understanding and inclusive. Concerned about a neurobehavioral disorder? Neurobehavioral Associates administers comprehensive assessments to help diagnose special needs. Contact us today for more information about our services.
- CBS Pledges To Make Casting More Inclusive. (2019, June 24). Retrieved June 27, 2019, from https://www.disabilityscoop.com/2019/06/24/cbs-pledges-casting-inclusive/26828/
- Brown, D. (2019, June 12). Nike adds mannequins for plus-sized and para-sport athletes to its flagship store. Retrieved June 27, 2019, from https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2019/06/07/nike-mannequins-plus-sized-para-sport/1378592001/
- Empowering Persons with Disabilities. (n.d.). Retrieved June 27, 2019, from https://www.accenture.com/us-en/about/inclusion-diversity/persons-with-disabilities
- Resources for Parents. (n.d.). Retrieved June 27, 2019, from https://autism.sesamestreet.org/