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Disability in the workplace

04 Jul 2022

Accessibility needs to be the norm, not an afterthought.

One in four New Zealanders have access needs and most of those people could be contributing to our economy if we take three steps to start to change the conversation around disability in the workplace, says equity advocate Genevieve McLachlan.

“There are simple but highly impactful changes that organisations can make to help change the conversation around disability; and there are many potential benefits of this for both employers and
people with access needs. I grew up with Cerebral Palsy and a vision impairment, so I understand the difficulties faced by others,” Genevieve says.

“It can be as simple as how a role is advertised. Including information around how your organisation welcomes people with access needs, promoting flexible working widens an employer’s applicant pool and appeals to people with differing needs.

“Another is providing alternate ways for people to apply for roles.

“The second is that I’d advise employers to look at a person for their merits. Try not to make assumptions. Look beyond their disability.”

Leadership is also crucial for changing the conversation.

“There needs to be true leadership support and strong endorsement for enabling people with access needs in the workplace.

“This shift could empower the 24 percent of New Zealanders with access needs to meaningfully contribute to our economy.”

Looking ahead, Genevieve would like to see a reduction in the unemployment rate of people with access needs.

Currently 42.5 percent of people with access needs are unemployed, compared to 79 percent of non-disabled.

“Accessibility needs to become the norm, not an afterthought.”



Genevieve McLachlan is the owner of Adaptive Technology Solutions Ltd. She provides guidance and training in making technology accessible through specialised solutions.



This article was originally published in the May-Aug 2022 edition of The Review magazine.


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Melanie Louden
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