Making the Disability Inclusion Connections in Your Business and Community: Five Practical, Powerful Strategies for Action

Filed under Disability Awareness & Confidence, Inclusive Hiring 

Reading time: 6 min. | Posted by Dean Askin | Part two in a two-part series 

Five hands holding puzzle pieces, bringing them together.

Making the disability inclusion connections to business and employment success is a three-stage process.  

First, there’s grasping all the intertwined levels of connection. Second, there’s understanding the inter-related barriers to disability inclusion. Lastly comes bridge building: developing ways of making the connections happen so everyone involved benefits.  

Business leaders who make all the disability inclusion connections will see their organizations grow and prosper. For disability-inclusive businesses, profit margins are 30% higher. Revenue increases 28%.  

And, those business leaders are six times more likely to be running high-performing companies. 

The numbers make it clear: making the disability inclusion connections on multiple levels is vital for the success of everyone involved.  

But how do you make all the connections? 

It’s important to have a plan; a strategy.  

With this in mind, here are five powerful and practical strategies for making the disability inclusion connections in your business; and in the community your business serves.  

Making all the disability inclusion connections is a long game. These five strategies are the beginning of the journey. They’re a solid starting point.

Strategy number 1. The word strategy in purple text. Underneath, #1 is in large black text against an orange circle.

Invest in Disability Awareness and Confidence Training (DACT). It’s essential to start by raising awareness and increasing knowledge about disability — throughout your organization. It fuels your progress on the disability inclusion journey. Change happens with increased knowledge and awareness. Investing in DACT demonstrates your commitment to disability inclusion. 

In the new remote/hybrid work environment, there are DACT options for both situations. There’s online DACT that’s self-paced. It’s a good choice if all your staff is remote, or you have many employees to put through DACT. If you’re operating a small-to-medium enterprise, an interactive, in-person training session may be your preference and more practical. 

This training helps your employees understand: 

Strategy number 2. The word strategy in purple text. Underneath, #2 is in large black text against an orange circle.

Create an inclusive culture by revisiting your “three Ps”all your policies, practices and procedures. They’re at the core of an organization-wide inclusive culture. Your three Ps define the culture of your business.  

Review them all with accessibility and inclusiveness top of mind. This includes everything from standard operating procedures (SOPs), to job-aids (such as a checklist or quick-reference tip sheet), to how you hold staff meetings.  

Some things to consider: 

Creating an inclusive culture by reshaping all your three Ps will help you: 

Strategy number 3. The word strategy in purple text. Underneath, #3 is in large black text against an orange circle.

Form alliances with disability organizations in the community. Doing this does these things: 

Disability organizations such as the Ontario Disability Employment Network, can:  

Forming alliances like this helps drive disability inclusion forward. Businesses that are disability aware and confident, and community agencies, can collaborate on events and activities to educate others (see the Bonus Strategy — #6). 

Strategy number 4. The word strategy in purple text. Underneath, #4 is in large black text against an orange circle.

Be proactive and intentional about accessibility. Because your business should reflect the community it serves. And there are people who have a disability in every community — over one billion people (16% of the world’s population) have a disability. 

“Disability inclusion is paramount in any modern business because it has never been more important to include everyone, and accessibility is the vehicle to inclusion,” affirms Kristina Michalsky, Microsoft’s General Manager for the U.K. and Ireland.  

She made the statement in a 2022 report about U.K. disability consumer purchasing habits by the Business Disability Forum.  

Two key elements of this strategy: 

A man who works remotely is sitting at his desk having a conversation on a video call with another man in American Sign Language.

You have to do both these things. Here’s what the U.K. report found: Consumers want information about the accessibility of products and services, as much as they expect the accessibility itself.  

If you don’t provide enough information, you’ll lose business. In the report, 43% of consumers surveyed said they abandon a shopping experience when there’s too little accessibility information.  

This affects more than your financial bottom-line profitability. It hurts your brand reputation. Many consumers who have an unsatisfying interaction, share their experience on social media.   

Conversely, research shows that these things happen when you embrace disability inclusion by following this and other strategies: 

Adopting this strategy requires prioritizing accessibility. It means looking at everything. From your website design; to how you communicate with customers and employees; to whether there are accessible entrances.  

Investing in a thorough audit and assessment by a certified accessibility professional is a good starting point. (You can find one by searching The International Association of Accessibility Professionals directory.) Or consider creating a Manager of Accessibility position in your business.  

Accessibility is an integral part of creating an inclusive culture. It’s important to have the right mindset. Think of being intentional and proactive about accessibility as an investment in opportunities and possibilities.  

Strategy number 5. The word strategy in purple text. Underneath, #5 is in large black text against an orange circle.

Always include people who have a disability in every aspect of your business. One survey found that 83% of businesses have a formal program set up to help them understand and address the needs of the disability community.  

Getting inclusive feedback is integral to following inclusive design principles. This strategy is intertwined with Strategy #4. The disability user point of view helps ensure accessibility of everything across your organization. Which ensures your business reflects the community it serves.  

Disability input also drives innovation. That’s because many people who have a disability solve problems differently than others through their lived experience, notes transformational change leader and inclusion specialist, Mark Wafer.  

“And that’s how innovation is created in the workplace,” says the Ontario Disability Employment Network Business Champion. 

A bonus strategy — #6

Be a mentor. The conversation about disability inclusion has been going on in Canada for over a hundred years. There are still lingering myths and misconceptions about disability. They stem from a lack of awareness — despite decades of conversation and advocacy. So once you’ve made the disability inclusion connections, educate your customers, clients and community.  

Become a champion of disability inclusion who can mentor other business people. Share your experiences and successes. Showcase your business’s dedication to disability inclusion. Motivate and encourage other business leaders to follow your lead. Become a role model to follow. By following this strategy, you’ll play an integral role in turning more conversation into more action on disability inclusion.  

Making all the disability inclusion connections is a long game. These five practical and powerful strategies are the beginning of the journey. They’re a solid starting point. Here are a few more tips for making sure your business is disability inclusive. By following these strategies and tips, you’ll see positive outcomes and many benefits over time.  


Dean Askin

Dean Askin is the Communications Strategist for the Ontario Disability Employment Network.