26% of your office is touched by disability. Are you prepared?

Publish Date: July 24, 2023

Written by Rachael Hite

- Originally published at Inman News - Rachael Hite

Trainer Rachael Hite takes a deep dive in this interview series with two experts about what it takes to create an environment that is accessible for those with disabilities. If you are working at building diversity, equity and inclusion into your business plan this skill building series will help you create a working plan.

In these times, double down — on your skills, on your knowledge, on you. Join us Aug. 8-10 at Inman Connect Las Vegas to lean into the shift and learn from the best. Get your ticket now for the best price.

National disability awareness independence day is celebrated each year on July 26. This day commemorates the signing of the Americans with Disability Act (A.D.A.) in 1990. Kicking off a new series called Service Skills, we will tackle common barriers that disabled individuals face in the workplace.

These topics will cover workplace practices, consumer issues, and specific housing challenges that agents need to know about. Today’s video will cover workplace-specific problem areas.

We are focused on building skills for today, tomorrow and creating agents of change.  An estimated 26 percent of Americans have a disability recognized under the ADA, meaning that potentially one in four of your customers face some mental or physical barrier when navigating life.

As the housing industry moves forward in the future, there are many discussions about disrupting the norm. Our service team is dedicated to helping ensure that you have the tools you need to be innovative and provide the best service possible for agents and consumers.

Our experts

In this fantastic interview series, I connected with two amazing women who are making change in our industry in a big way. First and closest to our crew here at Inman, we have the pleasure of working with Dani Vanderboegh, a long-standing senior editor at Inman.

In addition to her duties as senior editor, Vanderboegh and her team produce niche newsletters for first-year agentsveteran agentsbrokers and teams, and she writes Inman’s Real Tea column, where real estate and reality TV intersect.

Since earning her master’s degree in magazine editing from the University of Missouri School of Journalism in December 2014, she has happily been part of the team at Inman, collaborating with industry-leading professionals, working with award-winning real estate journalists, and speaking at industry events nationwide, including WomanUP!, Awesome Females in Real Estate, Lake Homes Realty Summit, Inman Connect and more.

Second, we were joined by Alycia Anderson of The Alycia Anderson Company. Anderson is an international speaker and advocate for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion training.

A celebrated TEDx speaker and advocate, Anderson is a vibrant and brilliant woman who has created more education around Disabling Ableism. Anderson is a wealth of knowledge and personal experiences to help businesses train better employees and offer more inclusive experiences for consumers.

Anderson also recently launched a new podcast called Pushing Forward with Alycia, where she gives disability a voice, challenges stereotypes and promotes inclusivity.

We can’t hide our differences. We need to embrace them, honor them, experience them, believe in them, discuss them, share them, and include them as life’s beautiful treasures.” — Alycia Anderson, TEDx South Lake Tahoe, May 2021.

Fast facts and stats to know

  • 11.1 percent of U.S. adults have a mobility disability with serious difficulty walking or climbing stairs.
  • 10.9 percent of U.S. adults have a cognition disability with serious difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions.
  • 5.7 percent of U.S. adults are deaf or have serious difficulty hearing.
  • 4.9 percent of U.S. adults have a vision disability with blindness or serious difficulty seeing even when wearing glasses.
  •  Seven in 10 adults will, at some point, require long-term care. In addition, though you may not be disabled now, but many seniors face challenges after age 60.

Takeaways to create more inclusive workspaces for new hires and consumers

  • Invest in some basic DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) training 
  • Make sure the office has a conference room with furniture and space that would work for various individuals. Many brokerages are focused on the look and decor but less focused on the practical function of the space.
  • Create appropriate parking and entrance ramps into your office space.
  • Offer remote work opportunities and alternatives to your business plan.
  • Create a website and additional materials that would accommodate a variety of disabilities.
  • Find local and trustworthy vendors and contractors in the area who can help with ADA conversions and renovations.
  • Offer portable ramps and solutions in the office for agents to use for open houses and showings as needed.
  • Listen to the stakeholders or people impacted if possible.

Wrapping up

Creating an inclusive workspace and a thoughtful business plan is not only good business, but it also brings a new element of innovation to the services you offer. Imagine being the office that says they truly are a welcoming place for all, not what “type” of culture they offer.

It’s not about the swag. It’s not about the branding or the leads. Culture is about creating a space that is human first — and that has pretty amazing potential. I know that if you are reading this, you are part of the crowd that gets it, or you know that it is time for a change.

That change is long overdue. We would love to connect with brokerages and teams that are change-makers in the space of DEI; please reach out if you would like to share your story. Awareness starts by showcasing who is doing it well in addition to the places that need work. We could definitely use some more role models in the leadership arena on these matters.

Rachael Hite is a former agent, a business development specialist, fair housing advocate, copy editor, and is currently perfecting her long game selling homes in a retirement community in Northern Virginia. You can connect with her about life, marketing, and business on Threads & Instagram.

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