Reframing workplace inclusion through the lens of universal design: Considerations for vocational rehabilitation professionals in the wake of COVID-19

Kathleen Sheppard-Jones, Penina Goldstein, Mykal Leslie, Patti Singleton, Caroline Gooden, Phillip Rumrill, Lindsey Mullis, Christina Espinosa Bard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations

Abstract

BACKGROUND: The experience of disability and of how work is conducted in the American economy is undergoing new shifts in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This unique space in time provides an opportunity to re-examine the importance of universal design (UD) as a way to respond to a workforce that is growing more diverse and living longer with disabilities. UD is a set of strategies that creates places and resources that are accessible to all and considers the needs and wants of people from the outset. Through the use of UD, work environments can be more accessible and useable to all employees. OBJECTIVE: This article describes the changes in the experience of disability within the context of COVID-19 and defines UD and UD for learning principles. We then consider how UD reduces stigma and reduces the need for individual accommodations while promoting inclusivity and improving productivity in the workplace. CONCLUSION: We offer strategies for embedding UD into vocational rehabilitation from pre-professional training to practice, all with a new sense of urgency and opportunity that is present as a result of COVID-19.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberjvr-201119
Pages (from-to)71-79
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Vocational Rehabilitation
Volume54
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 - IOS Press. All rights reserved.

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • Workplace inclusion
  • universal design

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Occupational Therapy

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