Creating a More Inclusive Workplace for People with Disabilities

Author: Nicki Malekadeli
Posted on: November 21, 2019

People with physical or mental disabilities face a number of challenges daily. Their condition significantly limits the way they perform everyday activities. But it is worth noting that more and more PWDs are engaging in the workforce. Thus, employers must provide workspaces that are suited for all employees, with or without disabilities. The American Disability Act ensures that individuals with disabilities will experience the same rights regardless of their handicap.

But, the National Public Radio, together with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, conducted a survey that showed disabled employees’ dissatisfaction regarding their workplaces. Fifty-five percent of persons with disabilities (PWDs) employees in the US expressed their discontent over the non-inclusivity of work environments in America.

Inclusive workspaces are beneficial for both employers and workers. This kind of offices help employees to avoid stress; thus, making them more productive. Below are some guidelines which can help business owners to provide all-embracing offices for employees.

Awareness Training

Being aware is the first step in executing an inclusive work environment. Thus, companies must administer awareness training for all employees to be informed of the company’s commitment to a disabled-friendly office. Sensitivity training helps employees to be knowledgeable of methods that can make their office culture and space to be suitable for all people.

Due to different upbringings, some individuals are equipped with biases concerning people with disabilities. Some of them are consciously or unconsciously unfair to these individuals. These prejudices propagate disability discrimination. It is the responsibility of the company to eradicate these biases for an all-inclusive workspace. Sensitivity classes will equip workers with the right information that will make them empowered. Apart from bias elimination, the training should also include emergency tips on how employees can help their disabled officemates.

Assistive Technology

Nowadays, almost all jobs utilize technology for improved efficiency and easiness. Technological advancements, manifested in assisted technology, allowed people with disabilities to become more engaged in the workplace. Thus, companies need to invest in the right tools and applications to help all their employees reach their full potential without unnecessary stress.

Assistive technology serves many kinds of disability. Through sign language apps, assistive listening equipment, and speech recognition apps, hearing-impaired employees can work with ease. Braille displays, on the other hand, can help visually-impaired workers to work with less difficulty. User-friendly site interface and color-coded keyboard are also included in the long list of assistive technology. However, it is worth noting that the use of this technology can only be maximized if there is constant quality training provided by the company.

Accessible Equipment and Space

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 requires employers to provide equal employment opportunities for people with disabilities. Aside from the same rights, companies must also be accountable for supplying disability-friendly office equipment and workspace. This type of material helps workers to perform tasks pleasantly and efficiently.

In terms of office spaces, companies should have passageways that are convenient for employees who use wheelchairs. Disability-friendly parking and ramps are also crucial for an inclusive workplace. Visually-impaired employees also need Braille in elevators for trouble-free transportation within the office. 

Another essential aspect of an all-embracing workspace is an accessible washroom. Higher toilets are made for disabled-friendly restrooms to help people with reduced mobility. Also, conference halls must be available to all employees since this is where vital discussions are made.

Fair Communication

Inclusivity is not restricted to physical manifestations. It should also be demonstrated in the company’s office culture. Managers and executives should know how to communicate honest feedback to all employees, including persons with disabilities. Giving dishonest feedback is a form of disability discrimination since supervisors presuppose a PWD’s inability to enhance their work ethic. Giving honest criticism allows a fair opportunity for employees to improve their performance.

Thus, companies must invest in training their executives regarding efficient communication. This training is beneficial for both the management and the employees.

Extended Care

Disability-friendly companies consider their employee’s well-being as a top priority. Thus, they can initiate leisure activities for their employees to avoid burnout and a toxic work environment. These activities also build rapport among co-workers. For relaxation, gyms and sleeping rooms are now usual sightings in offices.

In cases of disabled employees, companies can include caregivers and immediate family members in onboarding and awareness sessions for PWD employees. This initiative can help in an employee’s adjustment.

Seek Legal Counsel to Know More  

All employees, regardless of abilities or disabilities, must be given the utmost importance. Thus, as employers, it is crucial to provide a safe, comfortable, and inclusive work environment. Companies must be accountable for employees’ viewpoints regarding the inclusivity of their policies. It is advisable to contact experienced legal counsel to know how you can provide more reasonable and legitimate accommodations to persons with disabilities.

Get in touch with Mesriani Law Group today!