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Business Disability Forum hosts virtual conference on disability in a post-pandemic world

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Business Disability Forum will host its annual conference as a virtual event this year.

It has confirmed this year’s event will focus on disabled living in a post-pandemic world.

Entitled ‘Today and Tomorrow,’ the conference will be held between 14-15 October and is sponsored by HSBC.

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Sessions:

Business disability debates: work, life and leisure in a post-pandemic society – building on the positives of lockdown and tackling the negatives

No one could have predicted, nor did they welcome, the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown, yet in the time it has taken place, it has yielded unexpected benefits for some.

With the majority of the workforce working from home for the past few months, there aren’t many employers that have a reasonable justification for demanding a return to “traditional” office life.

The panel will ask can and should employers allow more employees, disabled or not, to work from home either permanently or periodically? Does being out of the workplace and change of environment bring more creativity and productivity to an organisation?

On the flip side, and with mixed news on productivity from the ONS, working from home and staying physically apart has had its drawbacks. Isolation and the challenges of staying in touch, checking in on people, and coping have been at the forefront.

Technology: High tech, low tech, no tech

How different would this pandemic and lockdown have been even a decade or two ago? Technology has allowed many people to retain jobs and connections with family, friends and the wider world as we’ve stayed in our homes – and enabled us to talk, shop and find ways to entertain ourselves or learn new skills from home.

Yet the lockdown hasn’t been the same experience for everyone, while some disabled people are tech savvy and completely at home with the world of technology, others have had a steep learning curve, and some still remain “no tech” needing to shop, bank and work in person.

On this, the panel discusses the learnings from the past few months and ways in which to ensure that we leave no one behind as we emerge into a new post-pandemic world.

Legal: adjusting to adjustments today

Businesses have become familiar with the term reasonable adjustment or accommodation but what does “reasonable” now mean?

Providing assistance to disabled customers, enabling colleagues and customers to lip read and even the definition of disability has been challenged by Covid-19.

Listen in as our Head of Legal looks at what “reasonable” might mean now as well as discussing the post-pandemic impact of the end of furlough schemes, return to workplaces and combating the risk of redundancy for disabled people.

Business disability global debates: Disability in tomorrow’s world

The virus forced us to think globally but to live locally. Will this continue and what will this mean for global brands? From the energy sector and manufacturing to airlines and the travel industry, might there be some unexpected benefits that emerge from the drastic and sudden effects of a worldwide lockdown?

It’s likely that a global recession is ahead and while the UN Sustainable Development Goals are built on the principle that no one should be left behind, it has been the case that disabled people are more severely impacted by recessions than almost any other group.

Join the panel as it discusses what can be done to prevent that happening this time and to ensure that as the world moves forward out of lockdown disabled people are not left behind.

Mental health and wellbeing

Dr. Wolfgang Seidl will discuss how the pandemic and lockdown has affected our mental health and wellbeing.

According to The Lancet by late April 2020, mental health in the UK had deteriorated compared with pre-COVID-19 trends.

Has the pandemic forced us to concentrate on what is really important? What can employers do help support the mental health and wellbeing of colleagues and what can we all do to support each other to ensure that we emerge into a kinder more empathetic post-pandemic world?

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Alex Douglas

The author Alex Douglas

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