Text Transcript

This segment is brought to you by JPMorgan Chase advancing and empowering people with disabilities to drive inclusion forward. Now a new report is helping companies be more inclusive with those with disabilities. As the 2022 Disability Equality Index Report is out now and it captures data on how companies are collectively progressing on disability inclusion and what more can be done to make the workplace comfortable for everyone. So joining us now to discuss are Jill Houghton CEO of Disability:IN and Jeff Wissel Chief Accessibility Officer over at Disability:IN as well.

Welcome to you both. Jill, I want to start with you first walk us through some of the key takeaways that were in this report. I think one of the biggest takeaways we saw is that uh you know, people with disabilities have been asking for decades for flexible workplace accommodations and we saw 96% of the 415 companies that participated are providing flexible workplace accommodations. And what does that lead to? That leads to increased employment. Yeah, that’s a very good point there.

And Jeff wanna bring to this conversation as well. Was there anything maybe that surprised you the most about this report? I would say the thing that surprises me the most was how long it took us to get here. If you think about it, every company sent tens of thousands of employees home in like a three week time period during the pandemic and everything and all of the things that we learned about accessibility, disability inclusion, equality, through the pandemic has really I think amplified the opportunity for individuals with disabilities to fully participate. And also the hiring opportunities for companies to not just have to you know fill a regional phone center with 4000 individuals that happen to be right there in and go globally. Um so the opportunities for individuals with disabilities but also for employers has really significantly increased, we saw in the report.

Yeah. So let’s let’s piggyback off of that a little bit more because Jill you were just mentioning how far we’ve come when it comes to these companies and their involvement and how they’ve evolved over time. How has the disability index here grown over the last few years? And are you happy with the way that these companies are evolving when it comes to their approach to disability inclusion here? So at Disability:IN and we are laser-focused on increasing the participation in the index and it’s an index that we do in partnership with the American Association of People with Disabilities. The DEI, The Disability Equality Index is eight years old this year we saw 30% increase. 415 companies were laser focused on getting all Fortune 1000 engaged. Uh Just a you know a little tidbit. There is 69 of the Fortune 100 participated this year. And so we’ve got a lot of work to do. We’re barely scratching the surface but we’re excited that more companies are joining in this effort.

Jeff, you were mentioning the pandemic earlier as sort of the post pandemic reality sets in. What are some of the unique challenges people with disabilities are facing in the workforce right now? Probably one of the biggest things, I would say would be legacy software user interfaces and things like that. Think about it. Every company has hundreds of thousands of URLs, taking the benefits that we’ve seen through Zoom, Google Meet, Teams, the auto transcript, the ability to bring online an ASL interpreter, all these things from the working remotely in our homes or wherever we’re working from. We’ve incorporated a lot of accommodations into our digital remote space.

Now, think about it if we’re Deaf Hard of Hearing and we’re accustomed to using the captioning that’s available. And by the way I want to say it’s around 70% of individuals who use captioning do not are not Deaf Hard of Hearing. Um it helps with all different types of learning just being able to read and pick up that additional sense when we go back into the office and we’re in that traditional team meeting in a conference room, how do we incorporate all of the advancements remote captioning and things like that into the physical meeting space? Um one of the challenges to a lot of hotelling, you know, shared workspaces and so forth, needing to reserve serve conference rooms or huddle rooms, things like that. Making sure all that technology is accessible for someone like me who’s sighted but legally blind with a degenerative eye disease. I’m dependent upon accessibility to be baked into the process is to be able to fully participate and to bring our diversity of thought that our disabilities empower us to. So it’s definitely an opportunity for companies to continually looking at ways to innovate. So all employees and all customers can fully participate.

Absolutely. And I’m glad you guys, organizations like you guys continue to hold a lot of these companies accountable to get better at this stuff like this, Jill Houghton, the CEO of Disability:IN and Jeff Wissel Chief Accessibility Officer over at Disability:IN and thank you so very much for joining us today.