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Invisible Disabilities: Understanding The Challenges And Raising Awareness

Tiffany Meehan (She/Her/Disabled), VP of Marketing
Originally published July 25, 2023
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The concept of disability often conjures up images of wheelchairs and crutches, but not all disabilities are immediately apparent. Invisible disabilities affect millions worldwide and are particularly significant in the workplace, where they often go unrecognized and unaddressed. 

Creating environments that acknowledge and accommodate these disabilities is a fundamental part of inclusive employment. This is where Inclusively, a platform built for championing diversity and inclusion in employment, comes in. Inclusively connects job seekers with disabilities to employers who recognize the value of a diverse workforce, striving to create a world where everyone has equal employment opportunities.

 

Defining Invisible Disabilities

Invisible disabilities, as the name suggests, are not immediately apparent but can significantly impact an individual’s daily activities. These disabilities range from mental illnesses, and chronic diseases, to neurological disorders. Inclusively often assists job seekers with invisible disabilities like chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, lupus, and multiple sclerosis, among others. 

The challenges associated with invisible disabilities are complex and multi-faceted. Individuals may struggle with symptoms like chronic pain, fatigue, cognitive dysfunctions, or fluctuating wellness levels. The invisibility of these conditions often leads to misunderstanding and discrimination, as their struggles aren’t ‘visible,’ making it critical for employers to be sensitive and aware.

 

Mental Health: A Silent Battle

Mental health conditions are a significant aspect of invisible disabilities that are often overlooked. Conditions such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD are prevalent yet misunderstood in the workplace. These conditions might impact an individual’s ability to function optimally at work and necessitate certain accommodations to perform their best. 

These accommodations can range from providing remote work options, flexible schedules to allowing breaks for mental health and fostering an empathetic work culture. Acknowledging mental health conditions as legitimate health concerns and adapting the workplace accordingly is an essential step in creating inclusive work environments. It not only fosters a sense of belonging among employees but also helps in boosting their morale and productivity.

 

Triumph Over Adversity: Andrew’s Success Story

The transformative power of Inclusively’s platform shines brightly in the success story of Andrew. Diagnosed with a learning disability, Andrew had spent his working life in non-corporate environments like gyms and restaurants. 

However, with Inclusively, Andrew embarked on a life-changing journey. He connected with a job at a leading financial institution and honed his skills through an online coding Boot Camp. Today, he thrives as an associate software engineer, demonstrating how resilience and the right support can turn the tide. Andrew’s experience with Inclusively gave him the confidence to pursue positions he had never considered before. He sums up his journey by saying, 

“Inclusively’s process is so transparent that I felt comfortable asking for what I needed. I feel really supported – it’s changed my life.”

 

The Role of Inclusively in Supporting Job Seekers with Invisible Disabilities

Inclusively plays a pivotal role in supporting job seekers with invisible disabilities. The platform is uniquely designed to connect individuals with inclusive employers and provide the support needed for a successful job search. Many job seekers, like Andrew, may not realize they are eligible for workplace accommodations. Inclusively bridges this gap, helping individuals understand their options and connecting them with employers who prioritize inclusivity and accessibility. This transparent and supportive environment fosters a sense of confidence in job seekers, enabling them to explore opportunities they may have previously discounted. Inclusively’s unique platform design and its commitment to inclusion significantly contribute to improving job seekers’ outcomes with invisible disabilities.

 

Educating Employers: Training for Inclusion

Inclusively goes beyond just connecting job seekers with employers – it’s a platform that aims to bring a culture shift in the way businesses perceive and handle invisible disabilities. It achieves this by offering specialized training sessions to employers. 

These sessions are designed to provide insights on recruiting, hiring, and retaining employees who require accommodations, as well as spreading awareness about disability inclusion throughout an organization. 

Topics covered in these training sessions range from the foundations of disability inclusion, creating inclusive processes, addressing ableism, and understanding neurodiversity, to the principles of universal design in communication and digital spaces. These efforts are essential to fostering an inclusive and accommodating work environment.

 

Harnessing Data for Inclusion: The Accommodations Dashboard

Inclusively leverages the power of data-driven decision-making to enhance inclusivity in the workplace. The platform provides real-time analytics and an Accommodations Dashboard, allowing employers to effectively manage and understand the specific needs of their employees with invisible disabilities. 

Inclusively’s ‘Retain’ tool is a prime example of this innovative approach, offering an interactive framework for identifying, requesting, and providing accommodations at scale. This data-driven approach offers employers a clear, concise understanding of their employees’ needs, ultimately promoting a more inclusive and understanding workplace environment.

 

Closing Thoughts: A Call to Challenge the Status Quo

As our understanding of invisible disabilities continues to evolve, so should our workplace practices. Employers must strive to recognize and accommodate these unseen challenges, fostering a truly inclusive environment. However, the question remains: Are we doing enough to truly embrace diversity and inclusivity in our workplaces?

Inclusively offers a platform to make this transition easier, but the onus of bringing this change also lies with the employers. By challenging existing norms and making a concerted effort to understand and accommodate invisible disabilities, businesses can make strides in creating more inclusive workplaces. Are you, as an employer, ready to begin and champion inclusivity in your organization? The journey might be challenging, but remember – Inclusively is here to help.

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