Inclusive Bee: Creating A Safe Environment For All
Published Jul 23 2021 08:18 AM 1,883 Views
Bronze Contributor

Welcome to Inclusive Bee: The monthly “buzz” on how MVPs can cultivate diverse and inclusive communities. 

 

Last month, we explored different barriers that prevent people from feeling included through the stories shared by MVPs from around the world. Some of these barriers are visible, some are not. Part of our role as community leaders is to create a safe environment where people who do have different life experiences or disabilities feel comfortable to be who they are, with no fear of judgment. 

 

Here are some of their stories.

 

Be Mindful

 

Often, we restrict our understanding of disability to a picture in our minds of wheelchairs, walking sticks or prosthetics. In fact, over 70% of all disabilities are hidden or invisible, and close to 20% of the world population has a disability. In your daily workday, you are interacting with colleagues, clients, partners with hidden disabilities, far more often than you realize, and probably you haven’t been mindful enough about their limitations or needs.

 

Office Development MVP and RD Beatriz Oliveira, diagnosed with epilepsy, shares, “In my public career, I have never mentioned the fact that I suffer from epilepsy. I think that unconsciously I had a fear of stigmatization, discrimination or just being perceived as weak. Every time I have a public speaking engagement, I suffer internally with the fear of having a seizure on stage. Just like me, many others suffer in silence. As community influencers and event organizers, MVPs can have a positive impact towards building true inclusivity." This includes:

 

  • Collect data about your audience/attendees, so you know the disabilities you must accommodate.

  • Implement disability equality training for events staff/speakers, so events and sessions are equally accessible to everyone.

  • Ensure your content is accessible.

  • Promote content and sessions to raise awareness of this problem.

  • And finally, don’t judge – others may just have problems you don’t see.

Be Friendly

 

Developer Technologies MVP Dennie Declercq, diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), states that “everyone on the spectrum is different.” To work with people with autism, you must remember that each person is different and specific tips may not apply to all. What's Dennie's solution? Autism-friendly co-workers. How can you help?

 

  • Structure: Try to organize. Someone with Autism may be unorganized. A simple solution is to offer help with organization and provide structure. Also, provide a structured “programming environment” and explain what is important and why.
  • Planning: Offer to help with planning. Planning might be hard for some, so try to go the extra mile by lending a hand. Just bear in mind, it may or may not be accepted. Send reminders and cancellations. Someone with autism may be thinking about something else and not your meeting. Reminders are helpful. If you must cancel a meeting, be clear about why you need to cancel.
  • Communication: You may find that some people with autism are talking too much or too little (or too fast or too slow). Plan a specific timeslot to listen to them. Explain your joke. Some people with autism may not understand jokes. They may laugh because others are laughing but not because they understand.
  • Deadlines: Explore giving a project without deadlines. It can be difficult to cope with deadlines for someone on the autism spectrum. Give research and development projects. Make small goals and create time for people with autism. 

Read more about Dennie's story of Living with Autism Spectrum Disorder in Tech

 

Just Be There

 

Business Application MVP Ashlee Culmsee shares her journey as a young person who once didn’t find her place anywhere – especially in the tech industry. In her teens, she was diagnosed with anxiety and social phobia, which eroded her confidence in herself and her abilities to solve problems using technology.

 

Do read her personal blog or watch the video – her story might resonate with you or spark an idea on how to create an environment that can bring out the best in someone who’s trying to manage their mental health.

 

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