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Is Your Workplace Disability Friendly? 9 Tips for Employers to Keep in Mind

09 December 2022

As a business owner, you want your workplace to be as inclusive as possible. After all, a diverse workforce can bring various perspectives and experiences to the table. But what about employees with disabilities? Are you doing everything you can to make sure your workplace is accommodating and welcoming for them? Here are a few things you can try to ensure your workspaces are as inclusive and friendly to disabled people as possible.

Make a Commitment to Improving Accessibility in the Workplace

As the workforce continues to evolve, employers are looking for ways to create a more diverse and inclusive environment. One way to do this is to improve accessibility in the workplace.

There are many reasons employers should commit to improving accessibility in the workplace. First, it is the right thing to do. Everyone deserves an equal opportunity to succeed, regardless of their abilities. Second, it makes good business sense. A diverse and inclusive workforce is more creative and productive. And finally, it helps to create a culture of respect and inclusion.

Educate Everyone on Etiquette and Awareness Around Disabled Persons

According to the CDC, about 1 in 4 adults in the United States have a disability. That means that there's a pretty good chance that you know someone with a disability, even if you don't realize it.

Disabilities come in all shapes and sizes and can range from something as simple as chronic back pain to something as severe as being paralyzed from the waist down. No matter what kind of disability a person has, it's important to be respectful and considerate of their needs.

Here are a few tips on how to interact with someone who has a disability:

Ask before you help: It's always polite to ask before you help someone, especially regarding people with disabilities. Many times, people with disabilities can do things for themselves but might just need a little extra help. Asking before you help ensures that you're not inadvertently causing more harm than good.

Be aware of personal space: Everyone has different comfort levels regarding personal space, especially people with disabilities. Some might be okay with a hug, while others might prefer a simple handshake or pat on the back. Respect the person's personal space, and don't touch them without permission.

Use common courtesy: This one should go without saying, but it's important to use common courtesy when interacting with anyone, regardless of whether or not they have a disability. Hold doors open, say please and thank you, and be respectful of their time and needs.

Be patient: Many times, people with disabilities might need a little extra time to get out of a chair or finish a sentence.

Ensure That Your Workplace Is Physically Accessible

If you are an employer, you are required by law to ensure that your workplace is physically accessible. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) sets forth specific requirements for employers, including making reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities.

There are a number of ways to make your workplace more accessible, including:

Installing ramps or other forms of accessible entryways

Widening doorways and hallways

Lowering countertops and work surfaces

Providing accessible restrooms and showers

Installing braille signs and other visual aids

Making sure that employee workstations are adjustable to accommodate different heights and abilities

If you have employees with disabilities, you should also provide them with the necessary accommodations to perform their job duties.

Make Sure Your Website, and Job Postings Are Accessible to People With Disabilities

As an employer, you want to ensure that your website and job postings are accessible to everyone, including people with disabilities. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified employees with disabilities. This includes making sure that your website and job postings are accessible to people with disabilities.

There are a few things you can do to make sure your website and job postings are accessible to people with disabilities:

Use clear and concise language.

Use images and videos that have descriptive alternate text.

Make sure your website is compatible with screen reader software.

Make sure your website can be navigated using a keyboard.

Make sure your website can be resized without losing functionality.

Provide an accessible way for people to contact you if they need assistance or have questions.

Use an online job application that is accessible to people with disabilities.

Train your employees on how to use your website and job postings so they can assist people with disabilities.

Making your website and job postings accessible to people with disabilities shows that you are an inclusive employer and makes good business sense. People with disabilities have a lot to offer. Making your website and job postings accessible could open your business to a new pool of talented employees.

Provide Access to Assistive Technology in the Workplace

In order to provide accessibility for employees with disabilities in the workplace, employers should provide access to assistive technology. Assistive technology is any kind of device or software that helps people with disabilities overcome barriers and participate more fully in daily activities.

There are many different types of assistive technology, but some common examples include the following:

Screen readers and other reading aids

Specialized computer software and hardware

Adaptive equipment for office tasks

Telecommunications devices

Employers should ensure that employees with disabilities have the same opportunity to use assistive technology as everyone else in the workplace. Assistive technology can help employees with disabilities perform their job duties more efficiently.

Encourage Employees to Disclose Their Disabilities

Some employees with disabilities may hesitate to disclose their condition to their employer. However, it is important for employers to encourage employees to do so. Doing so will allow the employer to provide the necessary accommodations and support that the employee needs in order to perform their job duties successfully. It will also help to create a more inclusive work environment for all employees.

When encouraging employees to disclose their disabilities, employers should:

Let employees know that disclosure is voluntary and that they will not be treated differently if they choose not to disclose;

Explain the benefits of disclosure, such as the ability to receive accommodations and support;

Reassure employees that their information will be kept confidential; and

Provide employees with a list of resources, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) National Network or the Job Accommodation Network, that they can use for more information about their rights and options.

Advocate for Policies and Legislation That Promote Equality for People With Disabilities

People with disabilities have been fighting for equality and civil rights since the Disability Rights Movement began in the 1960s. Today, there are laws and policies in place that protect the rights of people with disabilities, but more work still needs to be done.

As an advocate for people with disabilities, you can help by promoting policies and legislation that promote equality and inclusion for all. This can include support for the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in many areas of life, or the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which ensures that students with disabilities receive a free and appropriate education.

You can also help by supporting bills and laws that provide people with disabilities access to jobs, housing, transportation, and other essential services. In addition, you can work to ensure that people with disabilities have the same rights and protections as everyone else when it comes to voting, jury service, and other areas of civic life.

By advocating for policies and legislation that promote equality for people with disabilities, you can help make our world a more inclusive and welcoming place for everyone.

Support Disability-Owned Businesses and Organizations

Disability-owned businesses and organizations are a vital part of the American economy. They create jobs, spur economic growth, and provide essential goods and services to their communities.

Unfortunately, disability-owned businesses face significant barriers to success. They often lack access to capital, customers, and suppliers. They also face unique challenges in complying with government regulations.

There are a number of ways that businesses and individuals can support disability-owned businesses and organizations.

One way is to make an effort to do business with them. This includes patronizing their businesses and using their services. It also means recommending them to others.

Another way to support disability-owned businesses is to invest in them. This can be done through venture capital or other forms of investment.

Finally, businesses and individuals can support disability-owned businesses by advocating for public policies that level the playing field. This includes promoting laws and regulations that protect their rights and make it easier for them to succeed.

Supporting disability-owned businesses can create jobs, spur economic growth, and strengthen our communities.

Foster a Culture of Inclusion by Valuing Diversity in the Workplace

Organizations that foster a culture of inclusion are those that value diversity in the workplace. A diverse workforce helps organizations to be more innovative, creative, and successful.

When organizations value diversity, they create an environment where all employees feel respected and valued. This type of environment helps to attract and retain the best talent. It also helps to build trust and collaboration among employees.

Organizations that value diversity understands that everyone has something to contribute. They create an environment where all voices are heard, and everyone feels like they belong. This type of environment helps to promote creativity, innovation, and success.

When organizations foster a culture of inclusion, they are more likely to attract and retain the best talent. They are also more likely to be successful in achieving their goals.

So there you have it, easy and practical tips you should employ at your organization to ensure everybody feels welcomed and loved. That's the only way to boost productivity.