Regardless of age and educational attainment, the unemployment rate for persons with disability in 2017 was higher than the unemployment rate of people without a limitation. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 18.7 percent of persons with a disability were employed, a sharp contrast to the 65.7 percent employment rate of those without a disability.
While hiring persons with a disability presents unique challenges for any company, aiming to retain more of this population with the right qualifications is a noble cause.
If you want to make your office more disability friendly, here are four simple ways to do it:
1. Train and educate employees.
For any new policies, training and educating employees are instrumental in producing lasting change. The first thing that you have to do to make your office more disability friendly is training your existing workforce on why you’re doing it, what’s in it for them, and what they can do to help you achieve this goal. This includes proper ways of interacting with persons with a disability.
Opening the floor for discussion and open communication will also enable your employees to think of and suggest innovative ways to make your office disability friendly. This can also serve as a way to foster cooperation and creativity in your company.
2. Make physical changes to your office.
Next is making your physical office accessible to persons with a disability. The most apparent changes are ramps and handrails. Install them where needed. There are permanent and temporary ramps so you can use the one that best suits your needs.
You should also be mindful of the potential problems that messy wires, desks, and monitors can cause. For example, messy cables on the floor can cause discomfort to employees on a wheelchair or crane.
Desks and monitors should also be adjustable to accommodate the varying needs of employees to improve safety and comfort in the workplace.
Your bathroom can also present challenges to disabled employees. Fix this by installing handicap bathroom accessories like toilet safety rails, anti-slip flooring, raised toilet seat, and more.
3. Make information available in various formats.
Information access is another challenging area in making a disability-friendly workplace. Though it can be labor intensive, you should ensure that every workplace information material is accessible to everyone. Training materials, memos, announcements, and others should have audio formats for visually impaired employees.
4. Open lines of communication for feedback.
You can’t get everything right the first time, so you have to ensure that employees can give feedback in a timely and secure manner. Employees with a disability should be able to raise concerns or suggestions for improvements on accessibility without fear for repercussions. In the same way, employees without a limitation should be able to offer feedback on the new policies and how it impacts their productivity and happiness in the workplace.
Disability is often seen as an impediment, but opening the doors of your office to those with disabilities will not only benefit your company but also your employees in general. With the right tools and strategies, you can make your office equally accessible to anyone regardless of their physical abilities.