Guest Post: Disability Can Help in This Time of Turmoil by Noel Joyce

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We are all in a time of turmoil, some more than others and how we live is changing dramatically. There has been a massive impact on the status quo of how many humans on the entire planet do their jobs. It has led to huge changes in how people go about executing on the tasks they normally do in their places of work. Many millions of people face a different workplace from even a few short months ago and my opinion is that this will lead to a more permanent set of changes that will make things better for people without disabilities and open up opportunities for those who live with disabilities.

An accident in 2006 left me paralyzed from the chest down and confined me to a wheelchair, this new normal was a massive change in my life. Everything that was done at the speed of thought now required lots of attention and effort. This meant a lot more planning and a lot more thought about contingencies in order to simply operate on the same level as my able bodied counterparts. Having spent at least 2 years out of the last 6 working remotely in Ireland as the rest of my time was spent in Shenzhen, China, I have been just about able to manage being a partner and father figure remotely. I have learned a lot about how to operate remotely in an effective manner and how to manage both personal life and work life in a nomadic lifestyle whilst living with a disability. It is not easy but it is doable. I believe that these experiences have armed people in these and similar situations with skills that otherwise could not be learned. I believe that for me managing my disability was a definitive factor in being able to do it.

The World has been “Disabled”

In some ways right now the world has been “disabled” from doing what was seemingly normal only a few weeks or months ago. The level and amount of restrictions that are now in place for many people are not new to the millions of people with disabilities in the world. This has leveled the playing field to some degree.
If you are fit and healthy and an outgoing social being as is often human nature, then being stuck at home with restrictions will be a new and unusual experience. Take the time to look around at what you can do in this new situation and it will surprise you how much is possible.
Learn from people with disabilities about how to work within these restrictions and parameters that are new to you but every day matter of fact situations for those with disabilities. Every day of my life is full of restrictions that have forced me to be more creative in how I work and execute on my tasks. I do not have a choice and now millions are in a similar situation.

Barriers Dissolving

It would be easy for those living with disabilities to get angry as now the barriers many people who have disabilities fought to tear down in an effort to work remotely or in ways that allow them to be productive and prosper have almost disappeared.

But I believe now is not the time to be angry. It’s time to share stories of our lived experiences and how those of us with disabilities negated these barriers that will enable everyone to do more in their current circumstances. There is huge value in this. The routines of how those with disabilities maintain productivity and live their lives are fast becoming the new normal for those without disabilities. This new normal to some degree will remain as the new Status Quo.

Disabled People, the World Needs Your Experience

For those of us with disabilities this is a call to action, we can add value at this time by helping others to understand what it takes to live with restrictions beyond our control. We can use our life experiences to contribute to the current fight by helping others who have found themselves in these new situations. So please post your learnings, tips and ideas.

Employers, companies and organisations private or public sector this is a call to action to place the same value on individuals with disabilities as you would anyone else as we are now all in a similar position. These are people who can help everyone become more efficient, empathetic and better able to continue working and being productive remotely, regardless of difficulties. Use this opportunity to engage on a similar level of restriction. Some of the best creativity and innovation comes as a result of extreme limitations.

Together we will unleash an untapped resource of intellectual and creative horsepower that will only benefit every human on the planet. Together we will reach a new level of inclusivity in the workplace. Inclusivity that is a long time sorely lacking.

Actions speak louder than words, including the ones you just read. Regardless of ability lets take inclusive action so we will be better prepared and better able for whatever comes next!


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