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  • Writer's pictureMeg O'Connell

Disability Inclusion: The 2024 Trends & Challenges


Am image of a hand touching a glass computer screen with a robotic hand.
The Future of Work

As the calendar turns to December, all eyes are looking ahead to the new year. While we can’t know for certain what is ahead, and the last few years have definitely taught us the unexpected can change just about everything. But we have been seeing some trends in our work that we know will be taking us into 2024.


Here are some of the key trends and challenges that will shape the future of work for people with disabilities in the new year.


Trend 1: Remote/Hybrid Work: Increased Flexibility

Remote and Hybrid work is here to stay. It seemed every week there was a new article about the debate over remote work and return to office mandates. While people with disabilities were some of the loudest voices in support of remote and hybrid work, other diverse employees want the benefits and flexibility it provides. The debate will surely continue but employees with disabilities have demanded more flexibility for decades and now there is no turning back. Plus, people with disabilities joined the workforce at a record pace over the past few years and that’s a trend we are definitely behind.


Trend 2: Technology and AI

Our phones are smart, so are our houses and automation is coming to everything. Technology will continue to improve the lives of people with disabilities, making tasks easier. Companies like Microsoft and Apple have been leading the way in assistive technology to make the world more accessible for people with disabilities. This trend will continue as companies realize that accessible products and services benefit everyone, not just those with disabilities.


We are only scratching the uses and benefits of AI. But we know it can enhance accessibility by providing captions, subtitles in a variety of languages, sign language interpretation for videos and online events, apps to help people who are blind or visually impaired navigate indoor and outdoor spaces. AI has even shown it can enhance medical diagnosis and monitor health conditions of its users. Another advantage that will benefit everyone.


Trend 3: Customized Accommodations

Reasonable Accommodations or workplace adjustments are getting an upgrade. Companies are fine tuning their accommodations policies and processes. Multinational companies are taking a singular approach to rolling out the accommodations process in all locations. We are also seeing increased customization of accommodations – organizations are realizing a one size fits all model does not work, and that accommodations are not about “setting a precedent” and more about helping individual employees be as productive as possible. We will continue to see fewer blanket approaches to accommodations and more agile customization.


Trend 4: Mental Health Resources & Training

The pandemic had us all paying attention to the mental and emotional health of workers around the world. Many workers have experienced stress, anxiety, burnout, grief, and trauma because of the pandemic, and the focus on mental health will continue in 2024. As more employees disclose mental health concerns and conditions organizations will continue to prioritize mental health resources for their workforce, by providing more support, and flexibility, as well as training for managers, HR and employees.


Trend 5: Workplace Experience/Employee Engagement

Employee retention is a critical priority for every organization and a new focus on employees with disabilities is underway. Companies are realizing their largest diversity segment is employees with disabilities representing 15-20% of their employee population. As companies expand diversity efforts to include people with disabilities, and create policies program and procedures to support them, getting feedback from the employees themselves is a significant resource in understanding the benefit and impact on the employees you are wanting to support. Our Amplify Survey is the first disability climate and culture survey, and companies are getting valuable strategic insights into their workplace cultures.


Conclusion

The future of work is not a distant or static concept, but a dynamic and evolving reality that will affect every aspect of work and life. Organizations and workers with disabilities will have to embrace the changes that lie ahead and leverage the opportunities and possibilities they offer.


Being aware of the trends and staying ahead of them will create better workplaces for the largest diversity segment. and preparing for the future, organizations and workers can create a more resilient, agile, and innovative work environment that will enable them to thrive in 2024.

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1 Comment


NDS
NDS
Mar 18

Thank you for sharing. It is very informative and helpful for people with disabilities <a href="https://www.northds.org/community-participation"> community participation </a>.

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