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Disability Empowerment

How Universal Design Helps Everyone Use Their Talents

Kathy West-Evans, MPA, CRC

Director of Business Relations, National Employment Team (NET)

As we highlight the diversity of the world around us, it is clear that talent comes in all packages, including in individuals with disabilities. Knowing that disability can occur at any time in life and during the employment life cycle, we must focus on developing the talent of all individuals and design strategies that keep people productive.

Our team has engaged in a dual customer approach. As we support people with disabilities, it is key to support the development of their career goals, skills, and abilities. For young people, this means increasing access to education, training, and opportunities as they explore career options. For individuals who acquire a disability later in life, this means considering how we accommodate them and keep them on their career path. 

For business customers, we apply this strategy upfront as part of an overall approach to universal design, and the development of a diversity and inclusion focus that includes disability. 

Whether we are planning around employees, customers, or both, people with disabilities represent 1 in 5 people in the United States. Disability impacts every family and business across the country. 

To keep our workforce and community productive and engaged, universal design is a key element. Even if you don’t currently have a disability, chances are you will at some point in your life due to accident, injury, illness, or other factors. 

The concept of universal design in our communities and workplaces ensures we can all access life and continue to be independent, productive, contributing members of our community. It is not a “we/they” situation — this is about all of us.

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