Is Your Training Programme Disabled Friendly?

To have a successful training programme, you have to offer both accessibility and inclusion. It must therefore be ensured that trainers are adequately training in universal design and inclusive training practices.

 

Hiring managers increasingly realise that recruitment and retention need to be a part of the same effort. Many companies concentrate their efforts almost exclusively to ensure that their recruitment processes are inclusive of people with disabilities (PwDs), then discontinue those efforts after their first day. However, replacing a worker costs the organisation up to one-third of the employee’s salary, which quickly adds up with high employee turnover.

 

A 2012 U.S. Census Bureau report has reported that 1 out of 5 employees is a PwD, and in 2015, the Federal Bureau of Labour Statistics has revealed that 17.5 percent of the US workforce are PwDs. Increased focus over retaining employees with disabilities has a huge impact on an organisation’s bottom line.

 

One of the often-overlooked aspects of retention is training. When organisations do not try to ensure that their training programmes and avenues for professional development are inclusive, they signal to employees with disabilities that the organisation is not invested in their career growth.

 

 

Building Training Programmes for the Employees

 

An employer not being aware that he/she has people with disabilities on their payroll does not mean that they are non-existent. Many employees may choose not to disclose a disability to their employer. As has been stated by Derek Shields, a consultant and trainer for the Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN), existing employees participating in training and development offerings might not be as successful because the programmes are not inclusive. And by creating training programmes that are more inclusive, an organisation is set to receive a bigger return on its investment.

 

Include Employees with Disabilities in the Training Process

 

Robin Nagel, a consultant and ADAAA/FEHA compliance practitioner who specialises in work disability prevention and management, says that inclusive training programmes must be created by learning from employees with disabilities about their needs.

 

Shields says that training must be devised on the basis of preference and the tools needed for participation. It is also essential to involve the stakeholders at all levels of the process including the design, testing, and implementation. He further adds that the effectiveness of the programme can be enhanced if they are regularly reviewed.

 

Programmes to be Accessible and Inclusive

 

There is a difference between accessible and inclusive, and accessibility is only the starting point. As an example, Shield illustrates: - If you offer an inclassroom training programme, but your building does not have an elevator and the class is on the third floor, a person in a wheelchair or scooter will be unable to participate. That is an accessibility issue. However, if a person with a disability can get to the classroom, but finds the experience in the classroom is exclusionary, that is a problem with inclusion. To have a successful training programme, you have to offer both accessibility and inclusion. It must therefore be ensured that trainers are adequately training in universal design and inclusive training practices. And organisations such as EARN and The Campaign for Disability Employment offer resources for creating inclusive training programmes.

 

Elaine Freedman is a skilled communications and marketing professional with over 15 years' experience writing original content for publications, websites, and managing social media and marketing campaigns. She is currently the Senior Communications Manager at HRCI and manages publications across digital and traditional channels for the organisation. Elaine received her bachelor's degree with a concentration in Broadcast Television and her master's degree in Journalism, both from the University of Maryland, College Park.

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