7 Ways To Make Your Workplace Disability-friendly

woman in wheelchair working with computer at workplace or office in Mexico city

Disabled community employees are protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This means businesses have the legal duty to provide reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities. Discrimination in hiring, firing, or promotions is not allowed.

According to the report, about 61 million people in the United States have impairments. This figure is equal to about 26% of all Americans, which is one in four people. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 19.1 percent of individuals with a disability had jobs in 2021.

The functional disability types include:

  • Mobility: Have difficulty walking and climbing stairs.
  • Cognition: Serious difficulties focusing, remembering, and making decisions.
  • Hearing: Total deafness or difficulty hearing conversations and other sounds.
  • Independent living: Difficulty doing daily duties on your own.
  • Vision: Complete blindness or severe problem in sight.
  • Self-care: Difficulty dressing, bathing, and eating.

Workers with disabilities are a largely untapped talent pool with a lot to offer businesses. Making your workplace more accessible and accommodating allows you to open your business to a new group of qualified applicants.

There are many ways to make your workplace more disability-friendly. Some accommodations will be required by law, while others are best practices that will make your workplace more inclusive. Here are some ways you can do to make your workplace more inclusive of people with disabilities:

Provide Accessible Materials

Ensure all materials in your workplace are accessible to employees with vision impairments or other learning disabilities. This includes providing Braille or large-print materials and audio recordings of important information.

You may also want to provide digital copies of materials that can be read using screen-reading software. This will allow employees with vision impairments to access the same information as their colleagues.

Some screen-reading software you can recommend are as follows:

  • BRLTTY
  • CakeTalking
  • COBRA
  • Eye-Pal® Ace Plus

Install Assistive Technology

Assistive technology is any device that can help people with disabilities perform their jobs. This includes computer screen magnifiers, alternate keyboards, and adaptive software.

These assistive technologies are beneficial if you have employees with disabilities that require them, like those who are blind, have low vision, or are deaf. However, you should ensure that the technology is compatible with your existing systems and that your staff is trained to use it.

Allow Service Animals

Service animals are trained to perform tasks for people with disabilities, such as providing assistance with mobility or guide dogs for those who are blind. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), service animals are allowed in all public places, including workplaces.

However, you may want to put some policies in place to ensure that the animals do not disturb other employees or cause any damage to your property. Ensure that your staff is trained on how to interact with service animals and how to accommodate their needs.

A woman in a wheelchair wearing her mask, and another woman beside her typing on a laptop at their workplace.

Install Mobility Aids

If you have a multi-story building, consider installing an elevator. This will make it easier for employees who use wheelchairs or have difficulty climbing stairs to get to different floors. You may also consider adding widening doorways to make it easier for people with mobility impairments to get around.

Before they can take advantage of the improvements at your firm, you must consider how they will get inside. The most-numbered disability category is persons with significant mobility difficulties. They typically use a wheelchair to access the business, which has steps to get inside. There are an estimated 3.3 million wheelchair users in the United States, with approximately two million new wheelchair users each year.

This is a compelling incentive to consider installing vehicle lifts at any entrances to your business. This will make it easier for employees who use wheelchairs or have difficulty walking to enter your workplace. Consider making some modifications to your facility if it isn’t already accessible as simply going inside.

Training Your Staff

Training your staff on how to best accommodate employees with disabilities is essential. This includes teaching them how to interact with colleagues with disabilities and how to use any new mobility aids or accessible materials that have been installed.

You should also make sure that your staff knows about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and any other laws that protect the rights of people with disabilities. This will help them better understand what accommodations are required by law and how to best comply with these requirements.

Set up a Quiet Room

Suppose you have employees with sensory processing disorders or other conditions that noise can aggravate. In that case, you may want to set up a quiet room where they can go to escape the hustle and bustle of the workplace.

This room should be soundproofed and free from distractions, such as bright lights or loud noises. It should also be large enough for the employee to move around comfortably. You may also want to provide some noise-canceling headphones or other assistive devices to employees who need them.

Enact Inclusive Policies

Inclusive policies are those that protect the rights of employees with disabilities and ensure that they have equal access to all work opportunities. Some policies you may want to consider include those that address disability leave, accommodations for employees with disabilities, and accessibility in the workplace. You should also ensure that your hiring practices have people with disabilities.

To Sum Up

Making your workplace disability-friendly can help you attract and retain employees with disabilities. It can also make your workplace more welcoming and inclusive for everyone. You can create a more accommodating environment for all by making some simple changes.

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