Disability can be a lonely path to navigate.
We all have annoying co-workers but if you’re disabled and/or navigating chronic illnesses, those little annoyances add up really quickly. It can feel as though everyone else is from a different planet which makes everything completely inaccessible. Here are the worst common traits about the culture that panders to an abled workforce.
1) Poor Communication.
This is never something that is easy to navigate, but for disabled people it can make life practically just very difficult. Not knowing if tasks are going to get done on time by other people can throw your own personal schedule off which can then compromise your own tasks. Not just getting work done. But it can interfere with vital self-care tasks which must be done to stay well.
2) Appalling time management.
Being late and holding up meetings can be a nightmare. It’s also particularly annoying to sit through meetings where people go completely off topic and ramble about nonsense. We all have better things to do, but for disabled people it can also make meetings more difficult. Some disabled and/or neurodivergent people may struggle to maintain their concentration over long periods. Some people may need breaks or only be able to apply themselves for a specific amount of time in such a setting. Sticking to a schedule and getting on is absolutely vital for workplace accessibility. It’s not always possible but the vast majority of meetings almost always end up being 50% bullshit.
3) Lack of awareness.
Able-bodied, neurotypical and biotypical people are often completely oblivious to other types of existences. They’ve been centred their entire lives. Society is set up entirely to cater to them whereas everyone else may face immense obstacles from other people and entities just trying to do the smallest task (just look at how rare it is to get accessible toilets or even entrances). The lack of awareness can really compound in a workplace environment where boundaries, limitations and accessibility just aren’t issues that are actively considered. Everyone expects people to speak up when there’s a problem but they don’t take action beforehand to ensure there are no problems.
4) Not playing as a team.
Selfishness is a big part of society that is catered towards able-bodied people. We’re all supposed to chase what we want under this false idea of meritocracy where the best somehow prevail. It’s absurd and nonsensical. Being self-centred when you’re on a team inevitably drags other people down as they try to make up for your workload or just deal with you not giving your best. They do the tasks they hate because nobody else will. For disabled people, that can be catastrophic to mental and physical health. Despite being labelled unproductive, disabled people are often picking up the slack for everyone else. It’s draining and tiring.
Disabled people deserve workspaces that are safe and accessible but this won’t happen until we actually get a culture that puts accessibility at its heart. That is not something delivered solely by government. All people must make sure that at all times they are working to be accessible too.