In recent years, there has been a huge push for disability acceptance in the wider community, especially in the workplace, and that’s a good thing.
To accept people with disabilities, we need to first make sure that those who have an impairment can actually enjoy engaging in the work they do. This blog post is all about how investing in accessibility a win-win for everyone is!
What is Accessibility in the Workplace?
Accessibility in the workplace is a phrase that covers many areas.
At its heart, accessibility provides an environment where people with disabilities can participate in the workplace by enabling them to satisfy their fundamental needs.
In other words, providing accessibility is about ensuring that people with disabilities can participate in society when it comes down to basic human needs, security, and comfort.
People with disabilities -both visible and hidden disabilities- can be assets to businesses the same as able-bodied people can be, but it can be harder for them to succeed in the workplace.
There are many ways to improve accessibility for employees with disabilities in the workplace to create a more inclusive environment and help attract and retain a diverse workforce.
Investing in Accessibility
Every person deserves the chance to enjoy the same privileges as others who live on this Earth.
It doesn’t matter whether or not they are disabled themselves – by removing barriers and ensuring accessibility, we create opportunities for all people. Removing barriers also brings up your business’ competitive edge against other companies who may not be paying attention; providing universal access means you are catering to more than just one segment of the population.
How Do You Provide Accessibility to Employees?
Adding accessibility for employees is not complicated. It’s about removing barriers and ensuring that people with disabilities can participate in society when it comes down to basic human needs, security, and comfort.
No matter your size or scope, you can contribute by providing universal access within your business or organization, creating a more inclusive work environment where everyone knows that they are welcome, and nobody should feel excluded from the workplace.
The most important part of creating an inclusive work environment is talking to your employees about what they need and investing in people.
Here are some ways your business may wish to make your workplace more inclusive.
Make Presentations Accessible
Conferences and presentations are a great way to bring people together, but for employees who may be deaf, hard of hearing, or for whom English may not be their first language, presentations can be isolating.
There are numerous ways to improve presentations and live conferences for people with disabilities, including providing American Sign Language interpreters. In addition, you may wish to take an advantage of CART captioning services that will allow the words to be on screen in various languages.
Send Text-to-Speech Messages Via Email
Email is a useful tool for businesses to send out messages and material to employees, but it can fall down in text-to-speech conversion. Your employees will need to be able to see the message properly and read the provided text either way.
You can send messages to your employees by email via text-to-speech, giving them the ability to use a screen reader to read the contents of emails. You might even consider setting up a mailing address to which employees can be directed for content to allow a more respectful work environment.
Be Respectful to Your Employees with Disabilities
When you are respectful of people with disabilities, you’re more likely to get them on board with your plans. Employees can be incredibly sensitive to noise levels in the workplace; consulting with your employees and then respectfully altering the environment will enable them to engage further within your business or organization.
Making physical modifications is a great way to improve accessibility within your business. Whether it is adding an accessible lift or making your building accessible with wider corridors and ramps, you’re making sure that everyone who uses the building knows that they are welcome, and no one should feel excluded.
Ease the Routine of Employees with Disabilities
People with disabilities have their routines and habits that they have adapted into being happy functioning into society; providing a better ability for people with disabilities to manage their own routines is important.
This is especially important for employees with invisible disabilities such as Autism and ADHD and for whom routine can be a critical part of their day.
Flexible start and finish times and giving employees time for focusing and quiet working can be transformative to neurodivergent employees, allowing them to flourish and become valued members of the team.
Ensure That All Employees Are Aware of the Appropriate Behavior
All employees must know what appropriate and acceptable behavior for people with disabilities is, and you should be able to tell if an individual isn’t following those rules.
This can be achieved by providing posters or handouts to employees, but you may wish to have a meeting and ask all employees how you can improve accessibility and ensure that they are aware of rules in the first place.
By having an open forum with your employees about values and behavior expectations, you ensure that your business is open and welcoming to people from all ability backgrounds. This is an essential step if you are to be an inclusive workplace.
Include People with Disabilities in Your Business Network
Being an employer and a business that is open about being disability-friendly will be good for your employees, but it’s also a great public relations opportunity for your business.
Many disability advocates and organizations can help you find productive ways to create an inclusive workplace and leave a positive impression on your clients.
Being disability-inclusive is not only beneficial to employees who have disabilities, but it is also a great opportunity for your business to attract other employees who may be looking for somewhere that they can be themselves and flourish in a new role.
Train Staff on How to Communicate with People with Disabilities
You can provide the tools and resources, but your staff needs to be trained on effectively communicating with people who may have a disability.
You may wish to consider having a training program for new employees so that everyone is on the same page when it comes to communication, making your business more inclusive, and ensuring everyone knows appropriate behavior when communicating with an employee.
Including a disability champion within your business or organization will also help people become more comfortable around those with disabilities and removing any uncertainty they may have.
Have Clear Expectations for Everyone
You will need to be very clear about what you expect from your staff, and employees will need to know exactly what they can expect of you. This is a great way to create an inclusive environment where people feel respected and valued and open up discussion on how each individual expects to be treated.
Your business may wish to have training for managers who are likely to come into contact with employees with disabilities, particularly if they may be required to make adjustments that might impact other staff. Your organization should also have clear policies and procedures that staff is expected to follow when working with people who have disabilities.
When it comes to staff members, you should ensure that they have a responsibility to report any incidents of bullying, offensive behavior, or discrimination in the workplace. You should also have a clear understanding of what your employees expect and what is expected of them.
Cater For Employees with Disabilities to Ensure Equality
Catering for employees with disabilities is a great opportunity to highlight their skills and abilities, often overlooked.
For instance, a person who has dyslexia can make great use of color-coded lists and product catalogs in the workplace, while someone who struggles with vision can be supported by colleagues when taking notes as well as receiving documents from the printer in an accessible format.
Such things may not seem like much, but it is a simple way to create an inclusive workplace for people with disabilities to flourish.
Accessibility in the Workplace: Summing Up
You may be quick to jump on board with the idea of being disability-friendly, but most businesses find that it’s important to do it right and make sure that they understand their own limitations and what is at stake if they don’t comply with accessibility regulations.
This doesn’t have to be a big undertaking; it’s just about ensuring that you are improving your product or service in a way that makes sense for everyone who uses the business.
Not only does it make your business more inclusive, but it will also show your clients that you care and are well prepared to help them to create the most positive experience possible.
By including disabled employees and all people with disabilities in your business, you can boost staff morale, create a better working atmosphere and allow everyone to thrive.
By becoming disability-friendly, you will create an environment focused on inclusion and welcoming for everyone.