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The Importance Of Workplace Accessibility

Diversity in the workplace is a hot topic that has been at the forefront of the accessibility battle for decades, and rightly so. While the world is adapting to needs with the likes of mobility scooters and accessible transport slowly becoming the norm, there is arguably still a way to go. While most agree that accessibility is a must in any workplace, few will truly understand why, which is where we come in.

Here, we’re exploring the importance of workplace accessibility and what you can do to make your workplace more accessible to everyone.

Educate Yourself And Current Employees.

Training in the workplace is important for more than just learning new skills. In fact, building awareness around accessibility and diversity is vital in ensuring a fair and just atmosphere for any employee no matter their needs. Disabled employees will not only need the physical accessibility elements – they need to feel like part of the team too, and by making your current employees – and yourself – much more aware of needs, you’ll have a much more inviting and empowered workforce to be proud of.

Watch Your Language.

Discussing disability can be a difficult task for those that aren’t used to the conversation. It’s a sensitive topic in some cases, but you also don’t want to appear to be tiptoeing around the subject. Using universal language such as ‘people with disabilities’ rather than ‘disabled people’ can make a world of difference, and all by taking a little extra care with your wording.

How Can I Make My Workplace Physically Accessible?

Assistive Technology.

Assistive technologies have been developed for a reason, so make use of those available to you! There are all kinds of online tools and apps that can help integrate those that are hard of hearing or partially sighted, such as braille displays and assistive listening devices, and something as simple as an adjustable desk can make wheelchair users feel much more comfortable in their everyday work activity. However, it’s important to make sure you offer the necessary training to each of the relevant employees to ensure optimal use of each tool.

Entry and Exit Points.

No employee can work if they can’t get in and out of the building, and ensuring an accessible entry and exit point is the first step to inviting employees with disabilities into your workforce. Step-free access and working, reliable elevators to upper floors are vital to allow freedom of movement to each employee. Similarly, avoid revolving doors, or ensure that there are automatic alternatives for those that need them.

The Car Park.

When it comes to accessibility, most employers will focus on the inside of the building and while this is important, ensuring that your carpark is disability-friendly is equally so. Make sure that there are sufficient spaces for accessible vehicle parking not only for your employees, but for any visiting guests too. Depending on the nature of your business, this can range from anything from 4% of spaces and up. In retail, for example, there may need to be more spaces simply due to the volume of customers passing through your store.

Of course, there are plenty more adjustments you can make, from installing accessible toilets to building a new return-to-work process for those that may be returning with a recently-obtained set of needs, but the most important thing that you can do as a company is to build awareness and tolerance. A knowledgeable workforce is an empowered one, after all.

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Young Upstarts is a business and technology blog that champions new ideas, innovation and entrepreneurship. It focuses on highlighting young people and small businesses, celebrating their vision and role in changing the world with their ideas, products and services.

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