Accommodating people hidden disabilities

A disability can be either permanent (for example, a hearing or mobility impairment) or temporary (for example, a treatable illness or temporary impairment that is the result of an accident).A disability can also be visible (for example, a wheelchair or white cane indicates the person has a disability) or invisible (for example, a mental illness).Not every person will self-identify that they have a disability and need accommodation.

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Also, recent jurisprudence has widened the applicability of accommodation.

Many accommodation options available to you as an employer can be low-cost or no cost.

When I speak to a company about hiring people with disabilities, they frequently tell me they have never hired people with disabilities before. You have many employees working here right now with hidden disabilities—they just aren’t telling you.” Most people with hidden disabilities do not discuss their disabilities in the workplace or with friends, due to the stigma attached.

I know many people with various hidden disabilities such as epilepsy, depression, diabetes,other psychiatric disabilities, and HIV/AIDS, who would never disclose for fear of discrimination.

Staff members may have varying degrees of experience interacting with a person with a disability.

By meeting with staff, if needed, before a new employee with disabilities starts work, you can provide information and build the comfort level of your staff.

The duty to accommodate is most often applied in situations involving persons with physical or mental disability but it also applies to all other grounds covered by the Canadian Human Rights Act, for example: Please note: Different jurisdictions may have different interpretations about the duty to accommodate.

It is important to check with your provincial/territorial Human Rights Commission.

While you may have to make some changes to workstations or provide an assistive device or assistive technology, many changes are simple.

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