Supporting Disabled Learners in the Workplace

With the amended B-BBEE codes in full force, we want to highlight essential elements of a perfect scorecard and, more specifically, focus on the disabled employee as a learner and employee in your workplace. According to a report on StatsSA, the Census of 2011 showed that disabled persons constitute around 7.5% of the South African population and that a shocking 80% of all disabled South Africans are unemployed.

As you already know, employing a disabled black person in your company is not a suggestion anymore, but a full requirement if you wish to improve your B-BBEE scorecard. And at the same time, companies can actively promote diversity and better the lives of our people. For instance, how amazing would it be to employ a disabled single mother with no immediate family close-by to support her? There are challenges of which we should be aware, and we want to help you by creating awareness and offering various tips on supporting your disabled and learning employee.

Sensitivity Training for Your Staff

There are people who feel uncomfortable around a disabled person but this need not be. Arm your employees with knowledge on how to treat their new co-worker with the same respect and dignity as they would treat any other co-worker. Teach them that their new colleague is exactly the same as everyone else. After all, all of us are the same at our core, despite our many differences.

Preparing for Wheelchairs

Ensure that all areas are accessible to your employee in a wheelchair. If you can only reach areas within the building with a flight of stairs, look into safe alternatives such as installing ramps or lifts where possible. Make it possible for them to reach everything they need to use without asking for help.

Preparing for a Visually-Impaired Employee

You can install software, which reads written text on a computer aloud or you can obtain Braille displays, which are available for the visually impaired employee. Keep in mind that your employee will learn the layout of the office and can walk with confidence once they have memorised where everything is but be sure to not move the furniture around because then they will be back to square one.

Preparing for a Hard-of-Hearing Employee

Be sure to install a phone with caption capabilities and remind all employees that they will need to make eye contact before communicating and to use pen and paper if all else fails.

Things will go extremely well if you take the disabled person’s humanity to heart and treat them as you would any other human being. To be treated with respect and dignity is the birthright of every human being. And by hiring a disabled person and putting them on a learnership program will not only be improving your B-BBEE scorecard but also the life of your new employee.
If you need any help, do not hesitate to contact us. Here at i-Fundi, we are able to assist companies in recruitment and audits, and we can assist with recruitment and placement of disabled learners for learnerships and B-BBEE score.