The great resignation in disability and how to deal with it

The 25th Dialogue in the Dark international meeting has just concluded. For the second year, our annual meeting was held online due to the pandemic.

A photo of the Dialogue in the Dark team Hongkong.

Part of the event was dedicated to reviewing the Dialogue in the Dark situation in each country through our partners.

Until before this meeting, the big challenges were twofold: first, the confinements and social distancing measures imposed by the pandemic, which forced us to close our exhibitions and stop the operation. Secondly, and as a direct consequence of the first challenge, comes the the difficulty to generate resources necessary to survive.

With some global venues resuming operations in the dark, we were faced with a new challenge: lack of personnel.

One of our partners commented: "We now have visually- and hearing-impaired guides who have either resigned or asked for higher salaries. I think the pandemic made a lot of people rethink their work life; some want to work less time; others want to earn more money or change their career direction."

Of course, there is also the fear of contagion. Exhibitions are closed places with a large number of people, where, no matter how many covid measures are in place, the risk will always be latent.

This lack of personnel was detected several months ago in the United States and other European countries and was called the great resignation. It was a novelty for us to learn that the phenomenon also extends to the field of work of people with disabilities.

And while the great resignation does not seem to be yet pandemic in the context of our guides with disabilities, our partners in Hong Kong introduced their ASK program, in direct response to a potential great resignation.

The ASK program works on 3 key factors to maintain the commitment and involvement of guides with disabilities in challenging times: attitude, skills and knowledge.

Attitude is linked to motivation and a sense of belonging and purpose. In Hong Kong, for example, guides with disabilities had the opportunity to support senior citizens during the pandemic, which provided them with a sense of purpose while their exhibit remained closed.

Skills are key during a crisis, because without the necessary tools to handle the difficulty, it is easy to fall into a situation of chronic stress or burnout. In Hong Kong, one of the skills they developed in the guides with disabilities were computer skills, which allowed them to continue facilitating workshops in online formats.

Finally, knowledge is the compass that indicates the direction to follow during times of confusion. To this end, the Hong Kong guides with disabilities have kept up to date through webinars, meetings and internal team discussions.

The pandemic has served some as a pause to recalibrate work life. It is valid to rethink our professional scenarios. But it is also a duty of Dialogue partners, as employers of people with hearing or visual impairment and a promoter of disability inclusion in the workplace, to create methodologies, such as the ASK program, that care for the employment of people with disabilities in these challenging times.