Ohio Valley Goodwill Industries
Serving Greater Cincinnati

What You Should Know About Working with People with Disabilities

When was the last time you thought about what it’s like for someone with a disability to find a job? For a lot of people, accessibility to employment isn’t top of mind, but it’s an issue that deserves attention.

Ohio Valley Goodwill works every day to provide a path to employment for individuals with disabilities, but it’s important that we all serve as advocates for equitable employment opportunities and inclusive workplaces. Here’s what you should know about working with people with disabilities.

Focus on Learning

Educating yourself on disability etiquette and disability issues goes a long way to understanding what life is like for someone with a disability. Look for opportunities to learn more and to train employees, but remember that it’s not up to individuals with disabilities to teach you. Not everyone with a disability wants to discuss their situation or limitations.

Instead, spend your time getting to know your employee or coworker with a disability. Ask them about their family, their hobbies, or their likes and dislikes. Getting to know someone helps put them at ease and provides a path for getting to know one another better.

It’s also important to educate yourself on the impact of language in working with people with disabilities. Check out this helpful Disability Language Style Guide to learn more about using respectful, inclusive, and preferred language when talking about disability.

Workplace Accessibility

If you’re preparing to employ someone with disabilities, it’s important to understand the accommodations they might require in the workplace. Don’t make assumptions — it’s okay to ask. However, it’s best to ensure you have an accessible workplace from the start!

Culture & Inclusion

Creating a culture that welcomes everyone is key to attracting a diverse workforce — and keeping them! Be sure employees with disabilities are able to participate in team social events just as easily as other employees. As a colleague, be sure to include your coworkers with disabilities in gatherings as well.

Provide an environment where all team members have a sense of belonging and equal opportunity for upward mobility. If you’re in a leadership position, ask yourself whether your company has representation in the upper levels of management.

Goodwill’s Job Skills Training and Job Placement Services

Ohio Valley Goodwill helps hundreds of people with disabilities achieve their vocational goals each year. We provide award-winning services such as vocational evaluations and consultations, job training, career exploration, work-based learning, and more. Our career specialists work with individuals from the beginning of their vocational journey, and they remain as a resource even after the individual has landed a job.

Learn more about Ohio Valley Goodwill’s mission to help individuals find employment and personal success, and how you can help by shopping and donating to Goodwill!