In the words of Stephen Hawking,
“My advice to other disabled people would be, concentrate on things your disability doesn’t prevent you doing well and don’t regret the things it interferes with. Don’t be disabled in spirit, as well as physically.”
People with disabilities need proper and adequate opportunities to hone their talents and turn their dreams into reality. The ideal workplace opens all possible avenues and growth opportunities to people with disabilities so that they can make the most of their abilities. But, how to create a disability-friendly workplace?
Here are some tips:
Make workplace accessible:
Install physical adjustments like lifts and ramps in your office building. Make sure that your doorways, as well as corridors, are wide and spacious enough to ensure free movement. Install accessible washrooms. Lower light switches, countertops, and handles to make them easily accessible to all. You might also think about using specialist lighting and specialist software apart from having modified furniture and good visual contrast.
Choose assistive technology:
Creating an accessible workplace does not end only with physical attributes. Think beyond the physical space and include assistive technologies to increase the productivity and effectiveness of your employees. For this, you can include screen readers, enlarged keyboards as well as screen enlargement applications.
Closed captioning and different types of voice recognition programs are also very good options. While such technologies are helpful for employees with disabilities, they can also make things easier for employees with disclosed disabilities.
Educate and train your employees:
It is important to educate and train all your employees if you are thinking of creating a welcoming workplace for people with disabilities. Organize regular training sessions for all your employees so that they know and understand their contributions towards building a more inclusive environment.
Incorporate such training especially into the company’s onboarding process. Point out and let your entire workforce know about the best practices and behaviours that are expected from them while being a part of the company.
Establish support groups and communities:
Have a specific group for your employees with disabilities. This group will be responsible for addressing issues related to disabilities. Conduct regular interactions with this group and find out more ways through which you can encourage disability inclusiveness. The group can also train new employees and make them aware of their responsibilities in an inclusive atmosphere.
Provide flexibilities to employees with disabilities. You can fix part-time hours for them or allow them to have frequent breaks or work during non-standard hours. Make sure that you follow the rules laid down in your country concerning disability in the workplace.
Continue your efforts:
Talking about forming a disability-friendly work area, the process will never come to an end. No matter how successful you may become in being more inclusive, there will always be something more that needs to be done. With new employees joining the company, you need to continue with your training and workshops. You can continue moving forward only through conscious effort and regular evaluation.