How Companies Can Use Data to Advance Diversity

 Due to the rise of data-driven technology, few areas in the workplace are not benefitting from data-driven change. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives can also benefit from this increased reliance on data.

There are several things you can do to ensure that your efforts are sustainable. However, before you start implementing data-driven change, it’s crucial that you first ask the right questions and gather information. Here are some steps to take to get started.


There are many kinds of information that can be used to create a DEI program; for example, you can examine the demographic data of your employees to find gaps in the diversity, and inclusion of individuals based on their characteristics. This type of data can be found in already existing workforce records.

Although you may initially focus on one area of the organization where you can make a significant impact, be open to exploring other areas where there are gaps, for instance, focusing on the diversity numbers may not provide you with the necessary insight into the individuals leaving the company.

One of the most important steps that you can take to ensure that your efforts are sustainable is to benchmark every level of the organization. This will allow you to identify areas where there are gaps and where there is a glass ceiling.


Failing to address the problems that were discovered during the data collection process can lead to the appearance of a lack of commitment to diversity. Setting goals based on the collected information and pursuing them will show that the program is real and will help employees feel that it is supported.

Before setting goals, it’s important that you first identify problem areas. For instance, a lack of diverse leadership positions may be caused by factors such as the lower promotion rates and the lack of women and minorities in the organization.

Setting goals that are aspirational rather than strict quotas are important to creating an ethical program. In a recent ruling, the US Supreme Court stated that quotas are unconstitutional.


Although it’s legal to set a goal of increasing the number of employees of a certain race, don’t rely on the individuals’ characteristics to determine the number of positions. Instead, focus on broadening the pool of candidates and finding talent in different regions.

One of the most effective ways to expand the pool of candidates is by committing to interview a certain number of individuals from underrepresented groups. Doing so will allow you to avoid setting a legal obligation that may violate the law.

Consider incentivizing your leadership teams to complete DEI goals, which has been shown to have positive results.

Following these steps will help you establish an effective DEI program with concrete goals for improving your company.

This article was originally posted on Russ Ewell’s blog.

Why Providing Diversity and Sensitivity Training Is Important

While ignoring the necessity of diversity training in the workplace can be tempting, it is an important tool for retaining a diverse and thriving company. Companies can connect with customers on all levels with employees from different backgrounds and perspectives. The following are some ways that providing diversity and sensitivity training for employees can benefit a company.

1. Awareness of Employee Protections

Diversity and sensitivity training go a long way towards ensuring that employees are aware of their rights as workers. By providing activities, employees acquire a basic understanding of how to handle discrimination and harassment in the workplace and how to protect themselves from it.

2. Improves Efficiency

It helps improve efficiency in companies by allowing diverse teams to be composed and set up. Companies can draw from each individual’s unique skills and abilities by focusing on people from different backgrounds. These unique strengths can help improve productivity in a company, leading to better communication between various departments and business divisions.

3. Improving Communication Skills

For employees to communicate effectively, they need to be aware of their own biases and the biases of others. Providing junior members within a company with diversity and sensitivity training helps them understand the different cultures and backgrounds of each other. This helps them build effective relationships with co-workers from different backgrounds and cultures, leading to improved communication amongst the whole team.

4. Improves Company Culture

Providing diversity and sensitivity training for employees will help a company build its own culture, which will in turn help attract new customers and retain loyal ones. By creating a culture open to all kinds of people, a company will provide its employees with the training they need to function in an environment that encourages diversity.

5. Achieving Better Organizational Goals

Companies that provide diversity and sensitivity training to their employees can achieve their organizational goals. By providing diverse teams with practical training, departments can more efficiently communicate and work together in a combined effort to achieve goals within a company.

Diversity and sensitivity training are crucial for companies to succeed in the modern age. By providing employees with this training, businesses can ensure that their employees are informed of their rights as workers and that they are aware of the different cultures and backgrounds of other company members. This can help improve efficiency in a company and create a more effective working environment for employees.

This article was originally posted on Russ Ewell’s website.

Tips for Helping Neurodivergent and Neurotypical Children Get Along

While neurodiverse children need a diverse and individualized education tailored to their unique way of thinking and learning, neurotypical children are considered the norm. This is because they can think and act like other children. This difference in neurological proclivities can be challenging in a sibling relationship, especially if one is on the autistic spectrum while the other is not.

Here are 3 tips to help parents support their child’s relationship with one another despite their different neurological profiles:

Tip #1: Balance Out Attention-Seeking

Many parents spend their time and energy trying to find a cure for autism, leaving neurotypical children out of the conversation and feeling ignored. Family members and specialists may pay less attention to them, which can lead to a sense of invisibility. To make each child feel loved and appreciated, make quality time for each of them separately.

Tip #2: Avoid Making a Big Deal Out of Their Differences

According to child psychologists, the goal of raising a child is to help them develop as an individual so they will be able to grow into self-sufficient adults. One way to do this is by avoiding discussing the differences between siblings. Instead, assume that this difference is perfectly normal.

Children should be taught how to deal with the difference between them by their parents, so they can better understand the world. As they grow up, children learn new things about themselves all the time, and their minds are constantly changing. By not elaborating on the difference between each child, they’ll both be able to handle more complex thoughts and emotions as they mature.

It is a mistake to make a big deal out of the autism of one child or the normalcy of the other. Parents should instead give each child the love and attention they need based on their psychological and neurological perspectives.

Tip #3: Be a Good Listener

Siblings should be encouraged to be more aware of accepting one another. Siblings who are not close because they think and behave differently may each feel like they are deprived of something their sibling has. As a result, they can develop jealousy and resentment, causing them to argue. As it’s important for siblings to share their lives with one another and support one another’s choices in life, parents should learn to be good listeners-giving each child the attention they need to feel understood and appreciated.     

This article was originally published on Russ Ewell’s blog.

10 of the Best Special Needs Organizations

This post is about some of the best organizations for individuals with special needs. The focus will be on charitable, educational organizations that help people with disabilities or learn skills to modify them to integrate more easily in our society.

1. Hope Technology School (HTS)

HTS is a nonprofit organization in San Diego, California. This organization trains people with Autism or other developmental disorders to be help desk technicians for national computer companies. The work enables adults to learn how to communicate and function normally in the workplace and become more employable by regular companies.

2. E-Sports Learning and Development Center (ESLD)

ESLD is a program that trains individuals with disabilities in video games. The students learn to play a variety of games, including those based on Super Smash Brothers and Call of Duty.

3. Special Olympics

Special Olympics offers sports training for people with disabilities and holds competitions worldwide to promote social acceptance of people with special needs.

4. AbilityFirst

Ability First is based in Manitou Springs, Colorado, and focuses on helping adults who have Autism become trainable, so they will be able to integrate with other people in their communities more easily. Ability First also provides programs that teach adults how to live safely and independently.

5. Inclusive Technology

Inclusive Technology is a non-profit organization that aims to make computers available to those who are unable to afford them. This organization provides low-cost computers and works with public schools to train teachers to use them in the classroom effectively.

6. Texas A&M Aggie ACHIEVE

The Texas Agricultural & Mechanical College (Aggie ACHIEVE) is a nonprofit organization that helps individuals with disabilities to integrate more easily into society. This organization trains people with disabilities to use computers and software for businesses and their own needs.


AUMI is an organization that provides people with special needs, such as those with Autism, to work in the specialty industry. The work includes lab work and assembly for companies that manufacture computer parts.

8. Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities

CCD is based in Washington, D.C., and provides resources for parents, children, and adults with disabilities. The consortium helps to provide resources and information to help families, individuals with special needs, and their communities.

9. Paralyzed Veterans of America

The Paralyzed Veterans of America is a worldwide organization that works to help veterans who have paralysis or another disability which affects their mobility. The organization provides advocacy and support to individuals with special needs.

10. Parents Helping Parents

Parents Helping Parents (PHP) is a nonprofit organization that assists families of children with special needs and education for parents to support their children. They also promote advocacy for children with special needs. PHP also works to help parents of children with special needs to understand their rights as parents.


These organizations help not only people with disabilities but also society at large by promoting greater acceptance and inclusion of people who have disabilities. These organizations are helping to change society’s views so that society can be more accepting, open, and welcoming to people who have disabilities.

This article was originally published on Russ Ewell’s blog.

Tips for Handling Your Child’s Meltdown

A child’s meltdown can quickly change a peaceful afternoon into a nightmare. New parents may struggle to find the right way to handle the meltdown that decreases its chances of happening in the future. While no child is the same, here are a few great tips that can be adjusted to fit a variety of children and their needs.

Learn the child’s triggers

Children can often become overstimulated by various situations, noises, or people. They may not want to do certain activities or chores and feel anxious about spending time outside of the home. Any emotion can develop into a meltdown. Parents should take the time to spot patterns in their child’s behavior that might indicate what is causing an emotional reaction.

By limiting instances that cause uncomfortable feelings and encouraging healthy, clear ways of communicating, parents can recognize when their child needs a break. Learning these cues will also help teachers at school, grandparents, and babysitters to better understand what they can do to help the child feel safe and communicate their feelings.

Establish a reward system

A reward system can be utilized to encourage the right behaviors without discouraging the child. Tokens are a great way to barter with children who want to be rewarded. Tokens can be given for displaying the right behaviors like cleaning up and being honest.

Children should feel encouraged to earn more tokens without fearing being denied tokens. For example, every good action no matter how small should be rewarded. If a child does poorly at school and brings home a bad grade, they should still receive a small reward for showing the assignment to their parents instead of hiding it.

Maintain rules and boundaries

Parents may struggle to maintain the rules when they don’t seem to initially work. A child may be upset they’re not getting enough tokens to do what they want or end up having a meltdown anyway. By staying calm and maintaining the established rules, the parent can successfully manage their child’s emotions. Meltdowns, fits, and tantrums will still happen even if the parent knows all their child’s triggers. Remaining steadfast and empathetic are great ways to connect and work with a child.          

This article was originally published on Russ Ewell’s blog.

Google’s New App Strives To Help People With Speech Impairments

Google has introduced a new app designed to help people with speech impairments, to help them communicate more easily. The Voice Access app has been designed to recognize users’ voices and speak for them. The app aims to function as a speech-to-text service, allowing users to use their voices instead of typing words on their phones. This blog post will discuss Google’s attempt to make it easier for people with speech disorders and impairments to use their phones.

Google Voice Access

Voice Access became available on Android phones on Tuesday, following an announcement made by Sundar Pichai, Google’s vice president of product management, at the recently held I/O conference. Voice Access comprises a smart search bar that gives users an option to select a voice command that would work best for them. By tapping on the microphone icon at the bottom of the search bar, users can activate Google Assistant. Once the app is activated, it will recognize what is said and respond accordingly. The app’s interface can also be customized to suit the user’s preferences to match the color scheme of their Android phone.

Project Relate app

This app is similar to Google’s Voice Access, but it does not require users to enable Google Assistant. It operates similarly to Voice Access by allowing users to enter a command and then optionally send that information as a text or voice message to another person. The app allows users to communicate with their family and friends, as well as with mail service providers like Gmail and Outlook. This can help people with speech disorders to communicate with others more easily.

Practical Applications

Although these apps will not completely change the way people communicate, they have many practical applications. For example, Voice Access can be a great way for people with speech impairments to make phone calls, as it will allow them to use their voices instead of having to type out the different characters they want. Additionally, frequent texting is also a big part of modern-day communication, and so this app can help people with speech disorders to communicate with others more easily.


Although these apps will not completely change the way people communicate, they have many practical applications. For example, Voice Access can be a great way for people with speech impairments to make phone calls, as it will allow them to use their voices instead of having to type out the different characters they want.

This article was originally published on Russ Ewell’s blog.

How To Make Holiday Parties Easier for Children on the Autism Spectrum

As the holiday season inches nearer and nearer, so do the various gatherings, shopping trips, and traditions that accompany the season. Although each of these can be sources of great joy and connection, chances are they also bring a little stress along with them. For families with children on the autism spectrum, the holidays likely even present a range of new challenges and experiences. In order to create the most stress-free, enjoyable holiday season, families can take several steps to benefit their child’s individual needs.

Getting Started

A great place to start is to set expectations reasonably and communicate with family and guests. As a parent, this might mean carefully considering what traditions to keep, and accepting that some things will have to be done differently. Not all previous family traditions may work with a child’s needs, but there are likely some special ones that can remain, or even be altered in new and creative ways. The best thing to do is keep an open mind and set expectations reasonably.

Consulting Guests

Once the parents set expectations, they can reach out to family and guests to inform them of any adjustments. This might take the form of a well-thought-out email or text to party-goers, explaining what to expect and how to best support the child’s needs.

Planning for your Child

As the party approaches, families can make the experience easier for their children by planning for their preferences ahead of time. Having a designated “settle-down spot,” for example, can be a great resource for children on the spectrum to help calm themselves if things get too overwhelming. Keeping tangible toys around, being mindful of volume levels, and providing headphones can all be critical tools for keeping your child calm and content as well. Even planning alternative food options can be a great idea, as holiday foods can be foreign and stressful in comparison to your child’s normal dietary preferences.

Enjoy the Party

The last and most important things families with children on the autism spectrum can do is remember the main purpose of the holidays: to spend joyful time with family. Practicing gratitude this season might mean giving your child breaks and focusing on what they love about the season. After all is said and done, enjoy the party, and know that you have cultivated the best holiday experience for your child.

This article was originally published on Russ Ewell’s blog.

What to Understand Before Becoming a Special Education Teacher

As a teacher, you want to make sure that your students are getting the best education possible. But to do this, you need to understand what it takes to become a special education teacher. There is more than meets the eye when it comes to teaching these kids and understanding their needs. This blog post will discuss 5 things that teachers need to know before becoming a special education teacher.

  1. Different types of Special Education

Depending on your state, you may teach kids with different needs and skillsets. In Massachusetts, kids who are deaf, have autism spectrum disorder (ASD), intellectual disabilities (ID), and other health impairments are all in special education classrooms. The nice thing about this is that you get to know what these kids need academically and neurologically through content knowledge and experience.

  1. Separate Standards

Special education teachers are held to different standards than other teachers. You may not be judged by how many of your kids pass the PARCC or MCAS, but instead, how many of your kids make “mastery” of the standards. This is done by evaluating students on their individualized education program (IEP) goals and objectives that they are working towards.

  1. Different Time Lines

As a special education teacher, you may have different timelines to complete specific tasks. For example, a student with autism may not understand the concept of a timed test and thus may take much longer to complete one. We also work with students on goals/objectives that are taking place over an entire school year, summer vacation included.

  1. Different Curriculum

You may think that you will be teaching fractions and decimals as a special education teacher, however, this is not the case. Some kids with ASD do learn through the use of pictures and symbols, which is where fractions and decimals come in. Other kids need to learn the basics, such as reading and writing.

  1. Different Responsibilities

As a special education teacher, you may have different responsibilities than other teachers when it comes to your students. This includes meeting with parents, paraprofessionals, and administrators to discuss specific concerns and progress; designing and planning lessons for each student following the IEP goals and objectives; implementing differentiated instruction to meet student needs, which may include different accommodations or modifications during assessments.

How to Talk to Kids About Disabilities

Hi! I’m so glad you’re here to read this article about how to talk to kids about disabilities. I know it can be a little scary at first, but the more you practice it, the better you’ll get. Here are some things that have worked for many people with teaching kids with disabilities:

1) Be patient and compassionate:

Kids will be curious, and it’s your job as a parent or teacher to help them understand.

-Let the child come up with their own questions for you instead of trying to answer everything on the spot. That way, they can learn things at their own pace that works best for them. If they don’t ask you any questions, that’s okay! You can always bring it up yourself or just let them know they’re welcome to talk to you about anything.

-Reassurance is essential too. If a child asks if their classmate has cancer and the answer is yes, reassure them that the classmate will be okay.

-Sometimes, kids with disabilities need extra help, but it’s crucial for them to be still treated as just ordinary people and not some “special” kid who requires special treatment from everyone else. They want to do things on their own too!

2) Understand what triggers your child’s anxiety or fears related to disability:

-Sometimes, it’s hard for kids to learn about disabilities because they may be scared of what might happen if something similar were to ever happen to them. For instance, if your child is afraid of getting leukemia like their cancer friend, talk with them and see where that fear comes from. Sometimes talking through fears can help ease the worry.

3) Don’t underestimate the impact of your words on children- they will listen intently and soak up everything that is said:

-This can be super scary, but it’s also awesome at the same time. Kids are really wise and will listen to everything you say about disabilities because they want to learn more! They may even ask questions that seem a little off or strange just because they’re curious.

4) Make sure any accommodations are well documented in writing- this will make communicating easier later when working with teachers, therapists, etc.

-You can try to communicate accommodations verbally, but sometimes that doesn’t work out too well (especially if the teacher is new). Having written documentation means you’ll always be prepared! Even if your child only needs accommodation for one day at school, having them in writing means you have proof that it’s necessary.

-I also recommend keeping track of when your child needs accommodations, so they don’t need to keep explaining themselves every time or feel bad about asking for help. You can use something like a calendar on your phone or computer to note down the date and what kind of accommodation your child needs. That way, you can easily show it to an authority figure if necessary, and they’ll know what’s going on right away!

This article was originally published on Russ Ewell’s blog.

STEM Career Paths for People With Developmental Disabilities

Employment opportunities in STEM fields grow rapidly, but the number of individuals gaining a degree in the fields is still low. It is even lower among students with disabilities. The low numbers create a need to develop more STEM career paths for people with developmental disabilities.

The Pacific Alliance Effort

National Science Foundation runs one of the initiatives to increase the number of students living with disabilities that explore, transition, and succeed in STEM careers. It funds The Pacific Alliance, whose staff supports disability-related, academic, self-empowerment/exploration, and employment barriers for students. The staff members work with students with disabilities at various academic levels whether they are in the STEM pipeline, not yet in, or still undecided.

The Pacific Alliance has four teams called Communities of Practice at local college campuses. The teams have people who share an interest or concern. They collectively engage in activities supporting the education and employment of students with disabilities in the STEM fields.

YolBe Initiative

Chicago-based YolBe(Your Life Only Better) is another organization that supports STEM career paths for people with developmental disabilities. It is a Chicago-based software company and a career networking platform.

The program introduces youth of color with developmental and intellectual disabilities to STEM careers. Participating youth get real-life experience on how it is like to work in a STEM field. Young learners aged 16-24 years participate in online soft skills training lasting eight weeks. Their coaches are Ph.D. candidates. They teach and guide learners to practice with peers on these modules:

  • Communication
  • Networking
  • Teamwork
  • Professionalism

The learners end with a YolBe′s four-week paid internship.

Equal Access internships, according to YolBe CEO David Douglas, were designed to serve those with disabilities. Douglas adds that “Equal Access is a marketplace for organizations serving a population with disability and employers interested in hiring individuals with a disability.”

YolBe offered online internships to increase flexibility and accessibility when marking its second year. Anirudh Paidipally, a 19 year who likes coding, was one of the participants. Paidipally is a Schaumburg resident on the autism spectrum but like HTML. He spent a summer working on code with YolBe through its website and app.

His father Bhaskar revealed Paidipally is always working on the computer while at home. “He is comfortable when sitting on his couch and table but gets anxiety when he goes somewhere else,” said Bhaskar. The internship helped Paidipally as his father works on his habit of freezing when he sees strangers or new situations.

YolBe team is focused on taking more STEM opportunities to the marginalized communities, from training to jobs. The intention is to provide real-life work experience to bridge a gap in information and skills.

This article was originally published on Russ Ewell’s blog.