Talking to Managers about Disability: New Communication Tools from the Northeast ADA Center

As we outlined in Painting a Deeper Picture of Disability Inclusiveness: Changing Organization Culture and Climate, creating a workplace that includes people with disabilities doesn't happen merely because policies exist within an organization. Organization culture and climate around including people with disabilities must be continually reinforced. In order to support organizational communication around this important topic, the Northeast ADA Center has created Talking to Managers about Disability: Communication Tools. These tools are designed to be used by organizational leaders (including human resources, diversity and inclusion teams, company owners, and executives) to send out the right messages to the right people in the right way.

  • The right messages focus on the importance of disability inclusion to business success.
  • The right people are managers and supervisors. They set the tone for disability inclusion in their own teams and across the organization.
  • The right way is to use short messages that are simple, clear, relevant, and engaging.

The Northeast ADA Center created communication tool templates on 11 topics. Under each topic, you will find sample communications you can adapt to your own organization. You can use them as is by merely inserting your organization name where indicated or you can use them as a starting point for crafting your own communications. The topics addressed include:

Topic 1. Why this matters - How disability inclusiveness helps our business

Topic 2. Setting the tone - The importance of managers and supervisors

Topic 3. Building trust - Making it safe to come forward with a disability

Topic 4. Defining disability - Obvious and non-obvious disabilities

Topic 5. Working together - Interacting with people with disabilities at work

Topic 6. Getting talent - Recruiting and hiring people with disabilities

Topic 7. Disclosing a disability - When an employee tells her manager about a disability

Topic 8. Federal Contractors - Encouraging employees to self-identify as a person with a disability

Topic 9. Questions about accommodation at work?

Topic 10. Our managers' resources - Disability information, contacts and services for managers in our workplace

Topic 11. Our employees' resources - Disability information, contacts and services for employees in our workplace

Remember, if you have questions about any of the communication tools, you can always contact the Northeast ADA Center by email or our fellow ADA Centers at 800-949-4232.