The Intellectual Disability Pandemic

A Series of “Flawless Facts” by Lesa Bradshaw – Topic 12

This month’s blog is a little ‘tongue in cheek’ in that I’d like to pose a ‘point to ponder’ about our journey towards ‘disability consciousness’ and begin to recognise the value that disability as a form of diversity can bring to the economy.

It began a few months ago – the ‘work from home’ dynamic which had many catapulted into the 4th Industrial Revolution. I had very efficiently logged into a meeting with my team, via the newly discovered ‘Zoom’ virtual platform, and found myself having to engage with 6 different individuals who were all peering at me from a tiny video box on my screen. Given that most of my team are of the ‘newer generation’ age group, and thus appear to have a natural disposition for figuring out technology, the seamless transition to meeting ‘virtually’ seemed as natural as breathing. I, on the other hand, had a slightly harder time of it as I tried to navigate all the ‘sharing’ and ‘participant’ options. Aside from the chuckles and slowly explained, step by step guidance which I received from them, I experienced found my technical ‘impairment’ somewhat frustrating.

At that point, it occurred to me that those of us who grew up with fax machines and no mobile phones have all, at some point, been considered to be somewhat ‘impaired’ when endeavouring to learn this new technology. Ever noticed the frowns from your teenagers as they try to show you how to use the features of your new ‘smartphone’? Ever noticed the strained patience emanating from your IT Support staff as they explain what the ‘cloud’ is and where your files are kept? Ever had to fight the urge to print a list of your passwords to keep somewhere safe as you’re too terrified you’ll forget and have to follow that dark path to reset your password?

Congratulations! You’ve had a tiny bit of insight into what it is to have an intellectual disability where learning new things or solving unfamiliar problems may take a little more time, practice, flexibility and reassurance. This means that you can relate to how important it is that others respect you for what you can do well, and don’t lose sight of your value, whilst allowing for a little leeway and flexibility when you are required to take on new or unfamiliar tasks. What we need to respect is that the ‘usual’ way is not the ‘only’ way … something we have all learned during lockdown.

So here I sit, 4 months later, as a guru on a variety of ‘virtual’ meeting and training platforms. I run online ‘live’ training with delegates from all over the world, and have learned to navigate time zones, platform options, subtitles, sign interpreters, and multiple screen shares …. All at the same time. All I needed was that ‘safe space’ to learn, the rights ‘tools’ for the job (as connectivity and laptops have become our assistive devices … there may be a few different or additional assistive devices require by some persons with a disability), and the opportunity to showcase my value which I have learned to deliver in a different way from  my previous ‘norm’.

My next step in the journey of learning is to now figure out which webinars and meetings to join, given the bombardment of webinars and informational resources that are hitting my inbox by the minute. I’m sure you can relate … so here’s a hint: Our Webinars are great! They’re fun, informative, packed with diversity and transformation learning, and topic specific so that you can choose relevant content on your Journey towards becoming Disability Confident as an organisation. Check out our Webinar options here or contact us to find out more about our range of disability and diversity based online training and recruitment solutions.