Disability Inclusive Health and Wellness Programs

Disability Inclusive Health and Wellness Programs
Tuesday, January 2, 2018
Bo Tanner in wheelchair by pool

Author: Nicole Henry, Project Assistant, Work Without Limits

The beginning of the year is an extremely popular time for focusing on health and wellness. Many of us are making new year’s resolutions that include better diets and more exercise. Likewise, many companies kick off a new calendar year with fun challenges and competitions that promote healthy lifestyles among their workforce's.

When planning your company’s Health and Wellness program, you will want to make sure that you are being truly inclusive of all your employees. It may be easier than you think to accommodate and include your employees with disabilities in wellness programs and other related activities. Here are some steps you can take to ensure the wellness program your company is planning is accessible for all:

  1. Planning: Include people with disabilities on the planning committee and/or have them working closely with the coordinator. By incorporating people of all abilities, there is a very high chance that everyone will feel included in working towards a healthier lifestyle. If your company has a disability Employee Resource Group (ERG), this could be a great opportunity to leverage and partner with that particular ERG.
  2. Man in wheelchair in front of elevator with sign that says 'Today Is the Day we take the stairs."Marketing: Ensure all marketing materials represent all people. By including different types of people that may be employed at a company, including people with apparent disabilities, there is no question as to who can participate. It’s equally important that these materials are accessible to everyone, creating formats such as audio, picture-based, large print and accessible electronic.
  3. Incentives: Another point to consider is including incentives, such as gift cards, prizes, and event tickets, that are geared toward people with a variety of abilities. The opportunity to sky dive, for example, may not be for everyone but a Visa card or gift certificate to a restaurant will most likely appeal to all.
  4. Accessibility: Ensuring your place of business, where the wellness program is taking place, is accessible is another thing to think about and ensure. These two assessments, Inclusion Worksite Wellness and Community Health Inclusion Index, can be extremely helpful in ensuring a wellness program, building, event, and all other business related happenings are accessible. 

Other areas to consider in achieving an accessible wellness program are:

  • Providing a map of accessible routes to increase movement
  • Implementing a smoke-free work environment
  • Including healthy options in accessible vending machines
  • Change a ‘Step Challenge’ to a ‘Movement Challenge’ by using pedometers to track movement instead of steps and having participants report on percentage increases instead of number of steps

Programs can be broader than simply a stair or step challenge, making wellness accessible to all.

Employee health is a great goal for companies to implement, and a fun way to start the New Year. When everyone is involved it will lead to a happier and healthier work environment!

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If you want to learn more about how Work Without Limits can help your company become more inclusive and diverse, please contact us

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Nicole Henry headshotAuthor Bio: Nicole Henry is a recent graduate from Worcester State University with a bachelors degree in Communications. She began working with Work Without Limits as an Intern in the Summer of 2017 and started full-time the following October. Nicole has been blogging and running social media accounts for various outlets for a couple of years, and continues to do that with Work Without Limits.