Disability inclusion training is a step employers of all sizes can take to promote a disability-friendly workplace culture. What’s more, it can assist in strengthening employees’ abilities to serve customers or clients with disabilities, an important market segment. Examples include general training for all employees on disability etiquette and training for supervisors on workplace accommodations. The forum for such training may be simple, such as brown-bag lunches, to more sophisticated, such as online modules or formal curricula. Regardless, all convey a commitment to an inclusive workplace—and help employees understand their responsibilities in fulfilling it.
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There are a number of resources small businesses can use to implement disability-related training. Examples include the following:
Toad&Co, an outdoor clothing manufacturer based in Santa Barbara, California, has a long-standing commitment to creating employment opportunities for people with developmental disabilities. In 1997, it partnered with Search, Inc., a Chicago-based disability services provider, to found Planet Access Company (PAC), which at the time employed people with developmental disabilities to assist in producing a new product. As Toad&Co grew in size and scope, so did PAC, which today processes 100 percent of its inventory. Now, Toad&Co is using its experience to educate its nationwide network of retailers on how people with disabilities can also add value to their companies, from both a workplace and marketplace perspective. Working with JJ’s List, another social enterprise of Search, Inc., it is rolling out a disability etiquette training program for store managers and employees on communicating and interacting with people with disabilities, whether as colleagues or customers. As part of this, all of Toad&Co’s roughly 100 employees will also participate in the training in order to ensure its own employment and customer services practices are disability inclusive.