In conjunction with the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, I joined my colleagues on an eye-opening visit to Singapore’s Enabling Village. This is an inclusive space that integrates education, work, training, retail, and lifestyle, connecting people with disabilities and society.
From there, I learned about the unique traits of autism spectrum disorder. For example, they have reduced sharing of interest and emotions, as well as undivided focus on execution. I observed these when I ordered a café latte from the barista at the in-house café. My latte tasted so good, unarguably much better than those that I had from other cafes. The services provided were great too – I cannot differentiate it from the other experience I had elsewhere. They are even precise when providing a specific number of napkins!
Life is On for the Persons with Disabilities
During the visit, I was amazed when I first saw the showcase of current assistive technologies and their product and service designs. And I asked myself, how do I provide an inclusive environment for everyone to live in and work at, including the people with disabilities?
Currently, there is no cure for autism and early intervention from the organization. However, as a society, we can embrace neurodivergent people around us if we seek to understand and open to diversity. People with disabilities are diverse, heterogeneous, and may not be immediately apparent. Generalizations about “disabilities” or “persons with disabilities” can be misleading.
They are not different from us, they are different like us.
Untapped Talent Pools
I personally felt resonated with the Enabling Village’s belief, “we and our partners are staffed by people diverse in abilities, skills, and ideas. But we do have one thing in common: we understand that each person brings a distinct life experience to the table.” I believe that these individuals are equally brilliant and extraordinary. High intelligence, intellectual, and artistic too. Look at the beautifully handcrafted vase I bought!
Embrace different is about understanding what makes us unique and what connects us, through authentic and open dialogue, making us a more diverse and inclusive company.
Let’s take a moment to understand the different types of disabilities. Find out how can we be an ally in building a supportive and inclusive work environment. By providing more empathetic instructions and support from the company, we can certainly look at exploring these talent pools as the #SEGreatPeople. We shall start changing perceptions on disabilities and eliminate the common barriers such as physical settings and stereotypes. It is probably the first step for us to embrace different.
To learn more about how we support diversity and inclusion at Schneider Electric, check out our website here: www.se.com/diversity
To read Char’s blog on accessibility advocacy, click here.