Advocating for Inclusivity in the Workplace
Gloria Fagan, RN, BSN, CCM, workers compensation outreach manager at Shepherd Center, explains the importance of Disability Pride Month.
By Gloria Fagan, RN, BSN, CCM workers compensation outreach manager at Shepherd Center
Every year, July serves as Disability Pride Month, spreading awareness and recognizing progress for disability inclusion and advocacy. In my role as a workers' compensation outreach manager at Shepherd Center, this cause is particularly close to my heart because it educates about disability employment issues and celebrates the many and varied contributions of American workers with disabilities. As someone who advocates for people who have been injured on the job to receive rehabilitative care at our hospital, I see a need for more discussion around this important issue.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was the first comprehensive civil rights act for people with disabilities. While it set the foundation when it passed 32 years ago, there is still more work to be done. Disability Awareness Month still highlights how important it is for employers to continue practicing, discussing and expanding inclusivity in their policies and procedures.
At Shepherd, I’m proud of how we emphasize the importance of inclusion for our employees. In fact, we were recognized this year as a "Best Place to Work for Disability Inclusion" by Disability:IN and the American Association of People with Disabilities. This is because of policies and procedures we’ve put in place, like increasing office accessibility for employees who use wheelchairs by providing roll-under work desks, accessible ramps, wider hallways and push pads to open doors throughout the hospital. For employees with visual impairments, we provide laptops that come with magnification and screen reading, as well as things like office light adjustments. Things like this ensure a more equitable opportunity for people with disabilities to thrive in the workplace, leading to a more diverse workforce.
While there is always more work to be done in this space, we will make progress if we work together and actively participate in these conversations. The Department of Labor’s Office on Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) offers a range of resources to help employers and other organizations encourage inclusivity in the workplace. Throughout the rest of this month and year-round, I encourage employees and employers to take steps to continue progress.
Shepherd Center provides world-class clinical care, research, and family support for people experiencing the most complex conditions, including spinal cord and brain injuries, multi-trauma, traumatic amputations, stroke, multiple sclerosis, and pain. An elite center recognized as both Spinal Cord Injury and Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News as one of the nation’s top hospitals for rehabilitation. Shepherd Center treats thousands of patients annually with unmatched expertise and unwavering compassion to help them begin again.