Disability Pride Month Turns a Spotlight on Inclusive Strategies

Inclusion often requires innovation. We take a look at how Cisco does it.

Buffy Naylor, Senior Managing Editor

July 7, 2022

5 Slides

July is Disability Pride Month. Unlike National Disability Employment Awareness Month, which is marked in October, Disability Pride Month is observed unofficially.

On July 26, 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) into law. Boston observed that day as Disability Pride Day. Other communities soon followed, leading to the creation of Disability Pride Month.

The first Disability Pride Parade took place in Chicago in 2004. Today parades are held in a number of cities, from New York to Los Angeles. In 2015, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio marked the 25th anniversary of the ADA by declaring July Disability Pride Month.

Dr, Carlie Rhoads, a member of the disability community, is program metrics and evaluation specialist for the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB). In a blog on the AFB website she wrote, “This month affords us all a great opportunity to lift up the disability community and shine a spotlight on people who are often marginalize, forgotten or explicitly discriminated against. All voices should be equally given a chance to speak!”

Cisco Systems Pursues Inclusion with Innovation

For two years in a row, Cisco Systems has taken the top honors on FORTUNE’s 100 Best Companies to Work For list. They also scored 100% on the Disability Equality Index (DEI) for the past three years, which designates them as one of the “Best Places to Work for Disability Inclusion.” The list is compiled by Disability:IN. a nonprofit resource for business disability inclusion.

As Disability:IN explains on their website, “The Disability Equality Index (DEI) is a comprehensive benchmarking tool that helps companies build a road map of measurable, tangible actions that they can take to achieve disability inclusion and equality. Each company receives a score, on a scale of zero (0) to 100, with those earning 80 and above recognized as “Best Places to Work for Disability Inclusion.”

Among the many initiatives it has in place for the disability community, Cisco offers specialized career tracks and telecommuting opportunities. They offer on-site health centers, pharmacies and health care incentives.

Dedicated to creating products and services that are accessible to people with disabilities — within their own workforce and outside — Cisco ensures that their  Connected Disability Action Network (CDAN) participates in the development of changes and initiatives from Cisco. Since 2015, their LifeChanger program has developed unique applications for Cisco’s voice, video and collaboration technologies to empower employees with disabilities.

Karthik K is an accessibility test engineer at Cisco and a member of the disability community. In a recent blog on Inside Cisco IT, he outlined five tips for helping people with disabilities achieve full productivity. These inclusive practices, he wrote, “start when employees are hired and continue throughout their career with Cisco.”

Scroll through the gallery above to find out what he recommends.

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About the Author(s)

Buffy Naylor

Senior Managing Editor, Channel Futures

Buffy Naylor is senior managing editor of Channel Futures. Prior to joining Informa (then VIRGO) in 2008, she was an award-winning copywriter and editor, then senior manager of corporate communications for an international leisure travel corporation and, before that, in charge of creative development and copywriting for a boutique marketing and public relations agency.

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