Stop Making It Weird: Why I’m Not Clapping – Exploring True Inclusion for People with Disabilities

60-minute Workshops

Day 2

Session Code: S1-D
When: April 17, 2019
Location/Room: M 100 I
Level: Introductory
Track: Critical Employment Practices
Presenters: Cassy Beckman, APSE  |  Jolene Thibedeau Boyd, Independent


Today, people with disabilities have greater opportunities for inclusion and full community engagement than ever before. There is also an increasing recognition of the importance of supporting higher expectations: More people who have disabilities have jobs at businesses where they work alongside their co-workers without an undue focus on disability.

The most innovative leaders recognize that all employees do better when they have support that is tailored to their unique skills, personalities, and work styles. Yet time and again, employers, professionals, and the community at large—many of whom consider themselves enlightened—engage in behaviors (which may have good intentions behind them) and hold unconscious beliefs that influence their actions and ultimately create situations that are unnatural and bizarre—in a word, weird.

This type of attitude or behavior can be seen, for example, when we give “special” treatment to individuals because they have a disability—for example, applauding or giving “high fives” to individuals who have disabilities when they accomplish an otherwise typical task, as if they somehow need special acknowledgement for doing what their co-workers and peers are simply expected to do.

Similarly, special education classes and disability-specific work programs are touted as providing attendees with opportunities they would not otherwise have. Yet there are many examples of children with disabilities being successful in classrooms when provided with appropriate supports and, for decades, individuals have demonstrated success working at regular jobs in spite of disabilities. These actions and attitudes have ultimately led to the perpetuation of unwanted “special” treatment, low expectations and institutionalized segregation.

This session will use a conversational format to introduce and discuss how to #stopmakingitweird by building a culture that treats people as people, regardless of disability status. The #stopmakingitweird campaign will invite business owners, hiring managers, human resource professionals and future leaders to explore their attitudes and behaviors, and provide opportunities for attendees to share their personal experiences of people being treated differently based on perceived (dis)abilities. Using both small group discussions and interactive group sharing, we will generate ideas for building a culture that treats all people with dignity and respect; content from our discussion will be compiled and shared in online forums to expand #stopmakingitweird to our global audience.

Learning Outcomes
  1. Demonstrate greater understanding of attitudes and behaviors that prevent full workplace inclusion of people with disabilities
  2. Identify ways to build a culture that treats all people with dignity and respect
  3. Gain tools and resources to support workplace initiatives to #stopmakingitweird

The Forum on Workplace Inclusion®
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Minneapolis, MN 55454
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Photos by Sarah Morreim Photography
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