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Learning the etiquette of inclusion makes a welcoming workplace

Expert advice can make a difference

A group of colleagues pose for a group photo around a conference table.

There’s a growing consciousness around corporate social responsibility and establishing inclusive environments that are welcoming to all.

But what does it mean to create a truly accessible workplace, one where persons living with disabilities are valued and able to contribute effectively with the right support?

A key ingredient to success is a shared awareness of the many types of visible and invisible disabilities, and appropriate etiquette when interacting with those who have lived disability experiences, says Linda Simpson, director of rehabilitation services at Performance Plus Rehabilitative Care Inc. (PPRC).

“Employers fear they will say or do the wrong thing when interacting with persons who live with a disability,” says Simpson. “We offer credible and proven training based on lived experiences that can help businesses create an environment for the future, driving inclusion to align with business goals.”

Tailored training builds up teams, breaks down barriers and myths

PPRC’s disability awareness and etiquette training includes four modules and can be tailored by their curriculum designers to meet your unique needs. The spectrum of disabilities covered is comprehensive, including mobility, hearing, vision, mental illness, learning and autism.

“We are not just hitting the surface with this training. We offer employers effective tools and strategies to bring people on board,” explains Simpson. “There is a talent pool to tap into – hiring people with lived disability experiences is good for business.”

During training, participants work through a variety of real-life scenarios that include how to assist a person living with a disability navigate the workplace. “People are struck by how simple it is,” says Simpson. “For example, to help a person with low vision, don’t say the meeting room is on the right – ask and offer to guide them instead.”

The training also focuses on societal perceptions and breaking down stereotypes. “Myths and stigmas abound, and employers might perceive that someone living with a disability can’t do a job,” says Simpson. “The truth is that many people with disabilities are well-educated, holding multiple degrees. If employers don’t tap into this talent pool, they will miss out on exceptional talent.”

Disability etiquette and awareness training for the entire team ensures a more successful onboarding and improves retention of all employees, along with enhancing workplace culture and team building.

Simpson shares an example of a Holiday Inn that hired someone with a hearing loss. With PPRC’s support and etiquette training, Simpson says there was a positive culture shift.

“The bar gets elevated. Staff were willing to help their new colleague with hearing loss,” says Simpson. “It goes beyond the workplace. You do business in your community. Someone living with a disability, their family and friends would choose to give business to a company that lives and breathes inclusivity.”

That Holiday Inn went on to hire a second person with a hearing loss, creating a ripple effect that started with a little awareness and education on proper etiquette.

Etiquette with expertise

For more than 28 years, PPRC has established a track record of assisting persons living with disabilities in securing sustainable work, as well as helping employers be more inclusive in their culture and recruiting practices.

PPRC’s disability awareness and etiquette training first launched in 2017 and moved online in 2020 in response to the pandemic. At present, training is offered in person and online, with a roster of clients including government departments, business owners, media companies, and non-profit organizations in Ontario and across Canada.

Simpson notes that while the training is fee-based, there is no charge for employers to access an array of other support services offered by PPRC, when they recruit from their talent pool.

For more information and to get started, visit or call 613-748-3220.