You got executive buy-in for your disability inclusion initiative, and your program is off to a strong start. But there’s another piece you’ll want to have in place from the beginning: good internal communications.
It’s the people in your organization who will make your disability inclusion program a success, so it's important to keep them engaged and give them the tools they need.
Below are strategies and examples to help you develop a successful employee communications plan for your disability inclusion initiative.
1. Check the accessibility of your internal communications.
If your employees can’t access your message, the information will be lost.
Conduct an audit of your current internal communications. Ask yourself who might be missing out on this information. Are videos and presentations captioned? Is information presented in a variety of formats? Are visuals accessible to people with low vision or color blindness?
Offer a variety of channels and methods for people to ask questions or get more information. List these on your communications to employees. For example, you could provide a link to an internal website, contact info for the steering committee, and details of upcoming discussion groups.
2. Lay the groundwork for your employee communications plan.
Your company is undertaking a disability inclusion initiative for important reasons. Make sure to communicate those reasons to your employees. When employees understand the potential benefits for all stakeholders, you’ll be more likely to have their active support and enthusiasm. You can repurpose many of the points from the case you made to leadership.
Many employees may have heard myths about disability inclusion at work, particularly when it comes to reasonable accommodations. Set the right tone by sharing some facts about accommodations in the workplace.
3. Leverage existing meetings.
Integrate disability inclusion discussions into meetings that are already happening. Manager meetings are a great place to start. Give your managers the tools they need to open these conversations, including FAQs and scripts. Make sure they have information about workplace accommodations, and let them know how to handle situations when they don’t have the answers right away.
Executive support is critical to the success of your disability inclusion initiative. Making that support visible — for example in larger team meetings — can show the organization’s commitment. Give the executives background information and talking points to help them act as champions of the program.
4. Use visuals and take-homes.
Providing information in multiple formats is another way to improve accessibility. Offer pamphlets, posters, and other visuals in common spaces like bulletin boards, break rooms, and lobbies. These pieces can be a good complement to messages delivered in emails, videos, or meetings.
Items like pamphlets that can be taken home and considered later are useful for employees who might not have the time or ability to take in a message on the spot. They can also be helpful for employees who want to refer job-seeking friends with disabilities to work at your organization.
Here are a few ideas for visual materials:
- Print our downloadable fact sheets about workplace accommodations and employee rights under the ADA and offer them to each employee.
- Create a series of posters around a theme, such as invisible disabilities in the workplace.
- Post announcements about ways to get involved on bulletin boards and TV screens.
5. Share updates on your disability inclusion initiative.
Plan regular communications aimed at keeping disability inclusion front of mind for your employees. That will help to emphasize its importance to your organization. And by sending out these messages on a regular basis, you’ll have more opportunities to inspire employees to participate.
These communications could include specific, transparent progress updates to show that your company is invested in the success of the initiative. For example, in your company newsletter, you could include a graph showing progress toward the initiative’s goals.
To keep employees engaged, provide them with information they can put into practice. For instance, you could share tips on workplace disability etiquette.
Your employees are the greatest asset in your disability inclusion initiative. By developing an accessible and proactive plan for internal communications, you’ll help them play a strong role in your program’s success.