Two young adults sitting at a conference table, listening to a speaker.
Guide

Employer toolkit: Allyship in the workplace

How to support colleagues with disabilities

Active and informed allies in the workplace are crucial to creating an inclusive and respectful culture for all, especially for a community that most know very little about. In part two of our employer toolkit, we outline actionable ways that allies can support their colleagues in the workplace. Want to learn more? Read part one of our series.

The employer toolkit

Read the rest of the series

Disability inclusion in the workplace not only boosts business outcomes — it’s the right thing to do. Here’s the business case for inclusion and why it matters for your workforce.

From the interview and hiring process, to identifying career development opportunities, this toolkit provides managers the information they need to help their team succeed.

Part 2: How can allies help visually impaired colleagues be successful?

Blindness is a relatively rare disability, and most of us haven’t had the opportunity to live, study, or work with someone who is blind or visually impaired. And it is uncommon for books, films, shows, or plays to feature a person who is visually impaired. If they do, it’s often inaccurately portrayed.

So, most of us don’t know what we can do to ensure that a person who is blind or visually impaired (B/VI) feels a sense of belonging, and gets whatever assistance they might need to be at their best in the workplace.

You can be that active ally, helping to bridge the ignorance gap, by being a positive role model in your workplace and beyond. You’ll also be relieving your B/VI colleague of having to do all the explaining themselves. It can be exhausting for a person with a disclosed disability to always be the one to explain the situation. 

The most important and fundamental thing to know is this: people who are B/VI are simply people who happen to gather information from the world differently than you might.

Rather than relying on sight, they gather information in other ways, which may include:

Most people use a mix depending on their preferences and circumstances.

Ways you can help as an ally

Learn 

Four disabled people of color gather around a table during a meeting and collaborate.
Image courtesy of Disabled And Here

Here’s what model inclusion looks like:

There are lots of simple things you can do to include your B/VI colleagues; some are more important for a person with little or no usable vision, others are helpful to everyone. Use your best judgment and empathy to guide your actions. 

In everyday interactions 

I am no different than you are, you can treat me just like you would any other colleague. I will just probably do things via a different method than you would.

– Nick C.

When helping your colleague navigate space 

When speaking with colleagues

Library Director Kim Charlson demonstrates how to use Comcast's new talking guide. Her guide dog lays next to her. Photo Credit: Anna Miller
Photo courtesy of Anna Miller

Around the work environment 

When planning social or special events

Colleagues should feel comfortable asking if I need assistance, and should be understanding if I say I’m all set.

– Timothy V.

When in the presence of a guide dog 

Guide dogs are the guiding eyes for people who are blind or visually impaired. Under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), people with disabilities are allowed to be accompanied by their guide or service dog in all places the public is permitted. To allow for the safety of the dog and its handler, be sure to observe these guidelines from The Guide Dog Foundation.

As your colleague settles into the job


About this guide

Career Launch @ Perkins logo

Career Launch @ Perkins is an innovative job training program and career services program helping young adults who are blind or visually impaired land career-track jobs. 

We developed this guide in cooperation with our supporters at Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation as a resource for our program’s diverse Employer Partners and organizations committed to equity and inclusion in the workplace.

The best practices in this guide can easily be implemented by individual employees, teams, and managers at large and small organizations alike. Partner with us in order to find trained and qualified candidates for roles in the field of customer success. 

Career Launch

Help us close the disability employment gap.

Get in touch to learn more about becoming a Career Launch employer partner.

Ready to launch?

Apply for Career Launch and get started on the path to professional success.

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