Panelists discuss resources for those with disabilities
The BJC Disabilities Connection group held a panel discussion April 26 at the BJC Learning Institute to discuss a variety of topics and ways that BJC supports people with disabilities at their jobs.
BJC communication director Emily Brasel moderated as panelists Donna Ware, BJC planning and design executive director; Andrea Lampert, BJC talent strategies vice president; Elena Parker, legal services director; and Tim Rand, BJC information services group manager, fielded questions submitted by BJC team members in advance, as well as some from those in attendance.
“This group was formed for several reasons, including recruiting and retaining people with disabilities,” said St. Louis Children’s Hospital communications and marketing project coordinator Deborah Springer, who, along with BJC Center for Clinical Excellence (CCE) director of transformation support, system operations, Eric Warnhoff, co-leads the Disability Connection group.
Though in its infancy, the group has already seen some wins. Thanks to the work of the group, main campus shuttle buses will soon display signs designating the front seats as accessible seating.
“It’s a small win — we’re hoping for a lot more,” Springer told the audience.
Panelists shared their expertise on a variety of topics brought up by the questions, including how the number of accessible parking spots at a building is determined, as well as the decision whether to use automatic door openers.
“With all of our decisions, we follow the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design,” Ware told the audience, referring to the 279-page guidebook published by the U.S. Department of Justice, which sets standards to make buildings readily accessible and usable by individuals with disabilities.
Several of the questions were around the use of assistive technology. BJC has many resources available that can help team members, Rand said. “For employees with hearing impairments, for example, we have attachments that can be used as a speakerphone and headsets that can help with volume controls,” Rand said. “For iPhone users, we have Bluetooth attachments that work with Bluetooth-enabled hearing aids that can provide a lot of additional clarity.”
Another question asked whether there was “sensitivity training” or a class that could help teach others to be kinder in the way they talk about and treat those with disabilities. The panelists agreed that the “Everyday Bias for the Health Professions” class offered through SABA is an excellent resource to help identify biases that may prevent people from treating everyone equally. Class participants learn ways to mitigate unconscious bias and learn that the words people say truly matter.
One of the Disability Connection group’s goals is to help remove the stigma attached to having an impairment. Candidates may feel hesitant to disclose their disability during an interview, and team members may not want to let their manager know about a disability for fear of losing their job.
“A person with a disability feels like there’s always a more qualified person out there,” says SLCH child life specialist and group member Kelly Moffatt. “And that person doesn’t have a disability and doesn’t need an accommodation.”
Warnhoff hopes that the Disability Connection group helps break the silence and encourages dialogue to remove those fears.
“We are working to create a culture where people feel safe to speak up and talk about their disability,” Warnhoff says.
Group members hope that the wins, the panel discussion and other events give them visibility and momentum system-wide.
The group is championed by Missouri Baptist Medical Center president John Antes. “We’re hoping to spread the word across BJC that this Connections group is here to serve and to advocate for team members with disabilities,” Antes says. “BJC has a reputation as a company that cares for all of its employees — we want to enhance that even further by removing barriers that impede some of our current and prospective team members.”
To stay informed on the work of the Disability Connection group, join the mailing list by sending an email to [email protected].