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How Accessable Is Your Workplace?


How Accessable Is Your Workplace?

Over 10 million people are registered as disabled in the UK. A further 2 million are living with sight loss, 100,000 have partial or no hearing, and over 700,000 people are autistic. These figures don’t cover the wide array of disabilities and conditions people can have, but hey do show a significant part of the population that aren’t considered ‘fully able’, but who are as entitled to work as anyone else. Unfortunately, the majority of workplaces aren’t accessible to the disabled for many reasons.

A lot of places consider their space accessible to the physically disabled if the main function is on the ground floor – regardless of the stairs leading up to the front door. Over the last few years we have seen an influx of wheelchair ramps being added to many buildings, but, in a country where most buildings are at least a century old, the issues inside continue. When mapping out your workplace, make sure that the route leading to your front door, fire exit, and the majority of your rooms are accessible to all.

The same issues run through an office layout, the top problem faced by people in wheelchairs is the fact that they either can’t reach their desk. Or that their height-appropriate desk is tucked around the corner, away from the rest of the staff, and where they still have to navigate the place to talk to their line manager. Having desks with adjustable heights is one way of sorting this issue, as is making sure that any leads or cables are not littering the floor, and that all spaces have enough space for a wheelchair to move around.

The same level of inclusiveness that you should be showing to people who are in wheelchairs needs to be shown to others too. For those who can see, it’s unimaginable to think of life otherwise. But for blind or partially sighted people, that is their reality – but not being able to see doesn’t affect their brains. You can create an accessible workplace by making a few concessions; use membrane switches to apply brail to any technology with keypads, and have signs and directions modified to include the same. You can download software which will allow your employee to hear the computer rather than read it. And if they have a guide dog, then provide a bed, bowls and space where the pup can do their business – the dog is working just as hard as you are.

For people who are deaf or hard of hearing, you can implement a few things to make your space more accessible. Your employee might be great at lip reading, be one of the many who knows sign language or simply communicate through the written word. So when you’re delivering meetings or feedback try and tailor it to them – speak to them normally so that they can read your lips, invite an interpreter to help relay what you’re saying, or simply transcribe the conversation so that they can read what you’re saying. Another important thing to think about when you have a deaf employee is the fire alarm. You can have lights fitted to go off at the same time as an alarm, to alert people who can’t hear the siren.

I am the founder of Startup Today. I am the main writer and have put in many hours of work into creating this blog. If you want to find out more about me then lets get in contact.

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