Companies of all shapes and sizes are continually striving to create inclusive and diverse workplaces. However, one core aspect that tends to get overlooked is accessibility for employees with disabilities. As a business owner, it’s your job to make sure your operation is accessible to all staff members, regardless of their cognitive or physical abilities. Doing so not only promotes social responsibility and equality but benefits your brand in numerous ways.
If you want to create and retain a diverse workforce, enhance employee productivity, strengthen your business reputation, and expand your audience base, here are several tactics you can try out today that can help make your company more accessible for all parties.
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Provide Physical Accessibility
Business owners with a physical premise need to listen up. How accessible is your building? The physical layout of your workplace plays a critical role in making it accessible for staff with disabilities. You need to ensure your office space is wheelchair accessible with lifts, ramps, and wide doorways. If a member of the team has a mobility impairment, make sure there are handrails in staff toilets and grab bars.
Regarding parking, make sure there are designated accessible spots close to your building’s entrance. Bear in mind that the height of workstations, counters, and furniture should be adjusted to accommodate those with different abilities and heights. It’s little adaptations like this that can make working life a whole lot easier for employees with disabilities.
Promote Digital Accessibility
Even if you operate your business venture online, that’s not to say there aren’t measures you can put in place to help employees with disabilities. You need to make sure your company’s digital assets can be accessed by all employees, including those with disabilities. Whether it’s your website, blog, online training materials or other digital tools, making sure they’re readable and accessible is key.
Your online content needs to align with accessibility standards. This makes sure staff with hearing, visual, or cognitive impairments can not only access documents but use them accordingly. For instance, your PDFs need to be accessible. AbleDocs can help you with this. They provide accessibility for PDFs and have become a world leader in digital accessibility. Other tactics to try include using alternative text for photos, providing closed captioning for videos, and using simple and clear language in your digital content.
Make Use of Assertive Technology
Assistive technology is designed to help those with disabilities perform functions or tasks that could otherwise be challenging due to their disability. Providing employees with assistive technology software and tools in the workplace greatly boosts accessibility for those with disabilities. For instance, screen magnifiers, screen readers, and recognition software can enhance how employees work and ensure they don’t come up against any obstacles.
Other assertive technologies you can introduce include ergonomic keyboards that allow employees with mobility or visual impairments to easily navigate digital content. Consider conducting regular assessments too. This can help in identifying the specific assistive technologies that may be useful to your staff and provide them as and when required.
Start Using Inclusive Communication
We’re all aware of how important effective communication is in the workplace. Because of this, it’s crucial that you make sure communication channels are inclusive for staff with disabilities. You can achieve this by providing several communication options, such as verbal, written, and visual. What you use will depend on your employee’s preferred communication styles.
For staff with hearing impairments, make sure to offer sign language interpretation or use captioning services during conferences, meetings, and presentations. Also, make sure any written communication like documents and emails are formatted in an accessible manner. This may include using clear fonts and alternative text for images.
Offer Flexible Work Arrangements
Offering flexible work arrangements can be of huge benefit to staff with disabilities. This strategy allows your team to effectively manage their workload in a manner that suits their needs. Whether you let staff work from home, provide flexible work hours, or job sharing opportunities to help those who may need extra flexibility, these options can be a lifesaver for many.
If you provide more flexibility in the workplace, this allows employees with disabilities the freedom to manage medical appointments and address other personal needs while still performing at their best. It’s your responsibility to speak to those who require extra assistance so you can approve accommodation requests and figure out solutions that work both for you, the employee, and the company as a whole.
Implement Disability Awareness and Sensitivity Training
Knowledge is power in any business. For your employees to excel and propel your operation forward, you should already have regular training and development programmes in place. When it comes to disability awareness, educating your team about the topic can foster a more supportive and inclusive workplace.
Make sure to provide training programmes that have information about different kinds of disabilities, their challenges, and the best strategies for supporting staff with disabilities. When your team are more in the know, they will have bouts of empathy, compassion, and support for their fellow co-workers. This can only be a good thing when it comes to boosting morale and productivity.
Give Your Employees the Spotlight
Finally, you need to give employees with disabilities the chance to speak up and address any worries or concerns they may have. This can be done in the form of regular one-on-one meetings. These serve as opportunities to directly engage with employees.
Unfortunately, disability discrimination in the workplace does exist. Because of it, you’ll want to make sure any staff with impairments are fully supported and respected in the workplace. Having conversations with team members with a disability and seeing their points of view can help them feel more comfortable and relaxed in their roles.
Companies up and down the UK need to strive for more than accessibility. Businesses need to work at being more welcoming to employees with disabilities. Whether you operate your venture in person or through a screen, putting the actions above into practice are what will set your operation aside from rivals, welcome staff with all different abilities, and help keep your company on top.