In the United States, more than 70% of people with disabilities are unemployed. This community actually represents a total of 20% of the American population, people with disabilities are currently well underrepresented in the workplace—this stands to be one of the biggest challenges we face in today’s society despite being an ever-evolving society.
Inclusion is something everyone can contribute to ensure that disabled employees feel at home within the employed environment. Increasing your efforts to support your workers who have disabilities is not only the right thing to do, but it also can mean big changes for a company of any size. Some of these changes will be necessary, some small but some big – all will help to create a better culture within your company/business to improve equality for disabled workers.
Here are five simple steps that any business can implement to increase inclusion:
It’s the year 2020 and technology is advancing at a rate which is astounding – with ongoing new creations in technology it’s made it easier than ever to perform tasks and even perform jobs. People with disabilities may need reasonable accommodations to do their jobs. Technology offers reasonably priced assistance for various disabilities, such as speech-to-text software for a visually impaired employee or captioning screens for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.
This point may not be applicable to all business owners or your workplace as the current standard of new buildings must meet regulations to ensure that easy access is created when buildings are created – however, you may work in an old building that needs modernizing. Make sure that your office or facility includes restrooms, hallways and storage spaces that are accessible for people of all heights and mobility – this ensures that any disabled employees and also guests/visitors are catered for.
We’ve discussed physical accessibility and how the material things need to be adjusted but what about the virtual? Inclusion extends to your online and digital presence. You can make your web site more accessible with simple steps like using alt tags that translate visual images and captioning on videos:
“If you fail to have subtitled videos this can render your video content useless to your disabled employees therefore making them feel excluded and downbeat,” states Janine Rushton business writer at State Of Writing and Academized.
Invest in Employee Education and Training
Accommodating employees with disabilities isn’t as simple as making a few changes and then watching as everything falls into place. Growing an inclusive atmosphere requires getting every single one of your employees on board with 100% compliance.
This means providing suitable training so all employees know what they can do to contribute to a better work environment for all. This type of training should be part of your new employee induction, where you can cover important best practices to keep in mind like:
- Front row seats for hearing impairments to make understanding/hearing presentations easier for them
- Ensuring an accessible open space for places such as meeting rooms or dining areas
- Send appropriate material ahead of presentations so that people can prepare and be aware of material should they need more time
“Even with this type of preparation – people will forget from time to time. This is an ongoing process which requires care, attention and diligence.” Says Steven Lock, a tech blogger at Essayroo and UKWritings. Making this commitment to get everyone on the same wave length about how they can best support everyone goes a long way in encouraging inclusivity and a team-centered environment.
Partner with a Job-Training Agency
Just like any part of your business or company - you can’t do everything yourself. There will be aspects of your work which require outside contractors or industries with specialities to come and help you achieve your end goal. This is no different with disability issues, find the non-profit agencies in your community that are providing job coaching training for people with disabilities and partner with them to bring the supports that employees may need right to the job.
Hopefully this has helped make you aware of how you can improve your culture for disabled employees and work mates. Remember – this is an ongoing process and it is ever evolving.