Last month was Disability Awareness Month and it served to heighten awareness of the legal responsibilities for government, businesses, and nonprofits mandated by the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act. It is typical for most of us to provide training relative to ADA laws and requirements: it is less likely that we provide training to our employees to increase their skills in working with ADA populations. Since disability prevalence increases from 11% (ages 24-44) to 35% (ages 65-69) according to the U.S. Census Bureau, workforce training becomes more important with an aging employee base.
A few factors to consider include disability awareness. There are two types of disabilities-those that are readily apparent to co-workers and those that are not visible or apparent to others. It is also important to increase employee awareness of exactly how they can and cannot interact with employees with disabilities.
Invista recommends not only increased awareness of the law and its rules and regulations, but also employee orientation which increases workforce awareness and ability to deal with the disabled in the workplace. One first step can be to include disability awareness in your standard diversity training programs. Extending the definition of diversity to include those covered by the ADA increases the likelihood that such employees will be successful in the workplace.
http://www.ada.gov/ada_intro.htm ADA.gov Introduction to the ADA
http://www.ada.gov/pubs/adastatute08.htm the amended Americans with Disability Act