How to make your workplace disability-friendly

People with disability face added barriers in finding employment, even though many have a lot to offer prospective employers.

Key points:

There are many benefits for businesses employing people with disability, but not every workplace is disability friendly. To give employees with disability the same opportunities as other employees and to help them reach their full potential, there are some workplace features you should think about.

The main topics to think about for a disability-friendly workplace are the built environment, the cultural environment, and adjustments for individual workers.

A workplace environment that is not disability-friendly can be a major barrier to a person with disability being employed, as well as impact their ability to hold that job position in the long term.

You should support employees by creating a work environment that is disability-friendly, not only because it will mean you get more out of your workers and they will have improved wellbeing, but also because you are required to make some workplace adjustments under Australian law.

The physical environment
The most obvious features which can make your workplace disability-friendly are the physical features.

Many people understand ramps are needed on buildings to make them accessible for people using wheelchairs and there needs to be an accessible toilet available, but there is much more an employer can do to transform their site into a disability-friendly space.

Doorways need to be wide enough to pass through easily – particularly for people with walking aids or equipment, grab rails should be installed on ramps for safety and non-slip floor coverings can also be important.

Loud and competing noises can be unfriendly for people with sensory disabilities, as can too much or not enough light.

Reducing noise with the right flooring and wall coverings for soft acoustics, and removing any unnecessary noises, such as loud speakers playing the radio. You could also provide earmuffs for situations or rooms where the noise is unavoidable.

As for lighting, ensure there is plenty of natural light let into the space and that this is brightened with extra lighting where needed, but avoid flashing or unnaturally coloured lights.

Any meeting rooms or common areas, such as a staff kitchen, should also be accessible so that employees with disability can participate in the same activities and access the same places as other employees.
For example, if the board room you use for staff meetings has steps leading into it, this would not be considered a disability-friendly location for a meeting.

Aside from the building, the types of technology you make available to employees can also make your workplace more disability-friendly.
For example, a person who is blind or has low vision might need to be able to use a screen reader when working on a computer.
You can read more about the kinds of assistive technology employees might find useful in the workplace in our article, ‘Assistive technology for support in the workplace’.

The cultural environment
The acceptance and awareness of disability in your organisation can be a big factor in whether your workplace is disability-friendly or not.
A disability-friendly culture is hard to measure, but in essence it should mean that a person with disability has all the same opportunities as a person without disability in gaining work and working for your organisation.
They should also be respected and have their employment rights protected, including the right to work in a safe environment without discrimination.
Sometimes, employees with disability experience discrimination from their colleagues or managers, so it may be helpful for people across your organisation to undertake disability awareness training to reduce the chance any discrimination occurs due to an unconscious bias.

This training could include online modules, such as those provided for free through Disability Awareness, a Government-funded initiative, or in person, for example through a consultancy service.

To Read more…

Source: Disability Support Guide

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