Creating a disability-friendly workplace starts with offering support and encouragement, allowing disabled employees to perform to their full potential.
In 2019, only 30.9 percent of people with disabilities, between the ages of 16 and 64, were employed. While the Americans with Disabilities Act explicitly prohibits discrimination in terms of employment, these figures tell us there’s still a long way to go when it comes to inclusion.
However, given that the change starts with ourselves, supporting disability in the workplace is something that can be done by following a few simple steps. If you’re in a managerial position, or would simply like to be part of a more inclusive workplace, take these into consideration and share them with your co-workers, HR department, and employers.
# 1 – Make Accessibility a Priority
The number one way to support people with disabilities in the workplace is to make accessibility a priority. This means not only making your setup more accessible by ensuring that people with limited mobility have easy access and can move around, but also to take into consideration the needs of people with auditory and visual impairments, as well as those dealing with neuro-divergent conditions.
Assistive technologies such as screen readers or voice recognition software should be implemented, while natural lighting, noise-canceling, and a quiet room where your neurodivergent employees can retreat to are also important aspects to consider. If this seems like a difficult thing to pull off, consider allowing your disabled employees to work from home.
Remember it can be more costly to replace an employee than it is to adapt the workplace to them.
If accessibility is a priority, you should consider giving your website features to ensure that every step of your recruiting process is genuinely inclusive. This can include having accessible application forms and job descriptions – as in they come in Braille and easy read versions. You can also make all online documentation compatible with screen readers. This can make a big difference for someone looking to be part of your organization.
# 2 – Training and Awareness Building
Supporting disability in the workplace needs the full commitment of all employees, and a great way to ensure this is by providing proper training and awareness building.
Consciously or not, some employees could be biased towards their disabled counterparts. Most are usually unaware of the needs and support required to go through a workday happy and healthy.
Providing sensitizing training and etiquette classes can help change this situation, dispelling any myths and biases, and providing everyone with the right tools and opportunities to create an inclusive environment.
# 3 – Equal Pay, Equal Opportunities
People with disabilities are less likely to work in management and professional positions, and more likely to work part-time than their abled counterparts. Not just that, but according to the U.S. Census Bureau, workers with a disability earn 66 cents for every dollar compared to those without disabilities.
In order to support disability in the workplace, these numbers need to change, so you should ensure that all of your employees receive equal pay and equal opportunities and benefits.
Committing to an Inclusive Workplace
Employers should provide the best experience possible for all of their employees, including those with disabilities.
As you can see, there’s much more to this task than simply providing greater access to your offices. It comes down to empathizing and knowing what’s important to workers with disabilities, giving them the appropriate space and opportunity to not simply work but to thrive.
By taking their particular needs into consideration, following inclusive guidelines, and making accessibility a priority, you as an employer will be able to take advantage of all of the benefits an inclusive workplace can provide. These include greater productivity, better brand identity for your organization, and a contribution to social development.
Are you ready to fully support disability in the workplace?