Having coffee this morning, I listened on the radio to Take Note: Ola Ojewumi On Speaking Up For The Rights Of People With Disabilities and you can listen to or read the interview here:
Below are just some of Ms. Ojewumi’s responses that I found particularly resonating.
CHERAINE: I saw you in an interview talk about some of the ways that things have changed in terms of workplace during the pandemic that have been beneficial to people with disabilities. For example, being able to work remotely. Can you talk about what some of those changes were that have happened during the pandemic that maybe we should continue after things go back to whatever normal looks like?
OLA: Well, first of all, telework is an amazing tool that, previously before the pandemic, employers would readily deny people with disabilities. So it’s a brutal irony that now that everyone needs to be quarantined, now we're getting the things we've been begging for for years…
CHERAINE: Speaking of hiring, what is inclusive hiring, and how can workplaces do a better job of that?
OLA: …more companies need to employ affirmative action and have specific hiring initiatives to recruit people with disabilities. People with disabilities make the best employees. Statistically, we don't have high turnover rates, we stay within companies long term. There are so many things people with disabilities can offer in terms of innovation, because we have to adapt our lives to an inaccessible world and that translates into the workforce. We can bring new and innovative ideas, new perspectives. So I feel like invoking affirmative action and invoking special hiring initiatives to recruit people with disabilities is needed at the corporate level.
CHERAINE: So why should someone who is non-disabled care about these issues?
OLA: Because you'll eventually become us. If you plan on living to old age, you will become disabled. Naturally the human body ages and you experience disability. If my rights aren’t important to you, they should be important to you because someone you care about someone you know, you at least know one disabled person. You should care because this will eventually affect you and your life. And not caring or being apathetic toward disability rights is a form of injustice that you're doing to yourself.
I hadn't heard of Ola Ojewumi before this interview and will read her articles. Had you heard of her? Who are other advocates for people with disabilities who inspire you?