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Defining Disability Diversity in Society

  • Published: 2010-05-24 (Revised/Updated 2017-02-27) : Author: Disabled World : Contact: Disabled World
  • Synopsis: Information on Disability Diversity in society including the definition of both diversity and disabilities.

Quote: "The concept of diversity encompasses acceptance and respect. It means understanding that each individual is unique, and recognizing our individual differences."

Main Document

People with disabilities are the nation's largest minority, and the only one that any person can join at any time.

The concept of diversity encompasses acceptance and respect. It means understanding that each individual is unique, and recognizing our individual differences. These can be along the dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs, or other ideologies. It is the exploration of these differences in a safe, positive, and nurturing environment. It is about understanding each other and moving beyond simple tolerance to embracing and celebrating the rich dimensions of diversity contained within each individual.

If you do not currently have a disability, you have about a 20% chance of becoming disabled at some point during your work life. People with disabilities cross all racial, gender, educational, socioeconomic, and organizational lines. Discussion regarding diversity has often focused on gender and race. In contrast, there has been limited attention given to people with disabilities as the world's largest minority group.

Definition of Diversity

The concept of diversity encompasses acceptance and respect. It means understanding that each individual is unique, and recognizing our individual differences. These can be along the dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual diversity and orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs, or other ideologies. It is the exploration of these differences in a safe, positive, and nurturing environment. It is about understanding each other and moving beyond simple tolerance to embracing and celebrating the rich dimensions of diversity contained within each individual.

Definition of Disability

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 protects qualified individuals with disabilities from unlawful discrimination in the workplace, including access to training and career development. A disability is defined as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. Specifically, a qualified individual with a disability is someone who can perform the essential functions of the job with or without reasonable accommodation.

Disability Diversity in Education

Including Disability as Diversity in teaching can involve any number of factors, such as making classes accessible to students with disabilities, accommodating your own disability in a class, and incorporating disability studies perspectives into your course content.

Disability and Cultural Diversity

Employment circumstances facing minorities with disabilities are bleak. Attention to this issue must become a priority. In response to unacceptably high unemployment statistics for persons with disabilities from culturally diverse backgrounds, the U.S. Office of Disability Employment Policy has been working with Howard University, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the National Urban League, ASPIRA and other minority organizations in an effort to respond to this challenge. It will take the efforts of many organizations and employers to reverse the negative employment picture for minorities with disabilities.

Here are some factors that help to perpetuate the high unemployment rates of persons with disabilities from culturally diverse backgrounds:

Companies that include people with disabilities in their diversity programs increase their competitive advantage. People with disabilities add to the variety of viewpoints needed to be successful and bring effective solutions to today's business challenges. The American economy is made stronger when all segments of the population are included in the workforce and in the customer base.

INSIGHT Into Diversity continues to successfully connect employers to the most highly qualified individuals regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, age, disability, gender identity or expression, or sexual orientation.

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