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Counting the cost of Covid-19 on people with disabilities

Friday 16 Oct 2020

While Covid-19 has had an unprecedented impact on billions of people globally, those with disabilities are often disproportionately affected. One UniCredit takes a closer look

The pandemic has affected all of us one way or another. However, for people with disabilities the effects have often been detrimental. Millions of people with disabilities are struggling to cope with the “new normal”, when even simple things like wearing a mask poses a challenge to for example those who rely on lip reading.

However, if we all work together and promote a more inclusive work environment, these challenges can be overcome. Flexible workplace systems, such as variable schedules or offering extended leave, help accommodate specific needs and foster a healthy and thriving work culture.

Encouraging a more inclusive remote working  

Remote working comes with its own set of challenges, but having the right equipment and tech support to perform the job successfully is crucial. For people with special needs, it is extra important that companies can also offer to access assistive technology, such as auto-captioning, live transcriptions, and other access needs.

Disability Manager of UniCredit Italy, Francesca Magnoni Bonsi, said that “UniCredit’s attention to disability-related issues over the past 10 years has allowed us to quickly react to the emergency and give our colleagues the support they need. Since the pandemic hit, 80 per cent of our colleagues with disabilities have been able to work remotely.”

Emanuele Recchia, Head of Labour Policies, Industrial Relations and Welfare, tells us “During the pandemic we have confirmed our special attention to workers’ disabilities and needs and shown that our strategy is the right one. The extension of remote working and innovative IT solutions are concrete examples of our daily journey towards Inclusion.”

Offering a helping hand outside work 

We can all help each other through the pandemic, even more so for those with extra need for support.

Wheelchair users, for example, face increased challenges to abide by social distancing rules. To support you can offer to help run errands or do weekly trips to the supermarket.

Check-in with each other regularly to provide practical and emotional support. We can support each other through friendly peer-to-peer call-ins or virtual mentorship assistance. We can initiate disability-inclusive virtual group activities related to shared interests outside of work, such as book clubs, e-gaming fans, or guided wellness sessions. Professional care services, such as virtual psychosocial hotlines, may also help in overcoming these challenging times.

Raising awareness 

Many companies today are taking comprehensive and ambitious steps to advocate for disability. To learn more about these initiatives, click here.

For more resources, click here for a list of human rights organisations that support people with disabilities and details of how you can help. Or, take part in the several workshops which are being held on this topic in your country!