MBA Student

Let’s Talk About Disability: Part of the Equity Equation

What is National Disability Employment Awareness Month?

Each October, National Disability Employment Awareness Month commemorates the important role people with disabilities play in the U.S. workforce. This year’s theme: “Disability: Part of the Equity Equation,” recognizes the valuable contributions of people with disabilities to our economy, our communities, our classrooms, and our world.

Disability Inclusion in Business School

How do students feel about disability inclusion during the MBA experience? According to The State of Disability Inclusion in MBA Programs report, students with disabilities widely and consistently report barriers on campus, including stigma, lack of flexibility, lack of awareness, and difficulty communicating with faculty and peers. Just over 25% of the two-thirds of prospective, current, and recently graduated MBA student respondents who needed formal accommodations requested them. Common reasons for not requesting accommodations include daunting processes, lack of formal diagnostic paperwork, fear of stigmatization, and “internalized ableism.” Students’ responses about their academic experiences highlight the need for greater awareness about and communication around the availability of accommodations and the process for requesting them.

Disability Inclusion in the Workplace

Individuals with disabilities represent all genders, ages, races, classes, and cultures; the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 offers guidance for both employees and employers. As an MBA student, if you have a disability, and have an upcoming interview, you may wish to consider asking for accommodations, especially if you feel you need them to perform well during the interview. To learn more, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission provides additional information and resources.

Understand your colleagues with disabilities are professional people, just like you. Keep in mind:

  1. When planning events, make sure the location is accessible and the activity is inclusive.
  2. Use your voice in a normal tone when speaking with an individual who is deaf or hard of hearing unless asked to speak louder.
  3. Do not assume an individual with a mobility disability needs help. Ask how to help if it appears the person needs assistance.
  4. If you encounter difficulty understanding a person with a speech disability, do not try to finish the sentence for them. Ask the individual to repeat what they said and repeat it back to ensure clarity.
  5. You may serve as a sighted guide for individuals who are blind or have low vision. Announce yourself when entering and exiting a room, and offer your arm or shoulder should this support be requested.
  6. When working with individuals who have non-apparent disabilities, honor any requests for confidentiality and do not share information with others.
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