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It’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities, hip-hip-hooray!
This year (2020), the theme is “Building Back Better: Toward a disability-inclusive, accessible and sustainable post COVID-19 World”. Building back better includes opening business after the pandemic with more accessibility and awareness to create a disability friendly workplace! Statistically, before the pandemic, a person with a disability was twice as likely to be unemployed. During the job cuts and business closure this year, disabled people were sadly the first to get let off their jobs. Although, millions are suffering from unemployment and job losses this year, the disabled community has been hit while already down. Fortunately, business around the globe are starting to open their doors again which is a perfect time to reassess their inclusivity and practice equality through the re-hiring process. The sad truth about disabilities is that there’s a lack of education mixed with bad stigma and preconceived ideas. In order to make the internal shift of being non-biased and non-discriminatory, education is key!
Here are our 5 top tips to help create a safe and friendly work environment for all abilities:
1. Build Awareness and Invest in Training:
Stigma and unnecessary discomfort comes from lack of awareness and education. In order to create a thriving, aware workforce, employers need to empower their team with awareness education. It’s important to be non-discriminatory when hiring but crucial that those values are carried out within the workforce everyday.
There are many trainings including sensitising and etiquette programs that can help your workforce become a safe place for all abilities. Inside and outside of the workplace some people are consciously and or unconsciously ablest. Education can help dispel those discriminatory beliefs and create a positive attitude when co-working with disabled people.
There should also be basic training given to employees on how to help a disabled person in case of an emergency.
Your companies policies should include a section specifying your equality and inclusion values. It’s also important for it to outline harassment/bullying protocols so every employee is aware of the consequences in engaging in those activities and empowers victims to seek help if need be. See The Topcoins CSR Policy.
2. Make Use of Assistive Technology
With the role out of technology most roles require computers and the use of technology in the job description. Assistive technology helps disabled people carry out their tasks without impediments.
Assistive technology is developing and upgrading every year but right now some of the most common technology aids include colour-coded keyboards, refreshable Braille displays, specialised screen magnifier, assistive listening devices, speech recognition, sign language apps, and browsers that provide user-friendly and customisable Web interfaces. Provide the relevant training to use these technologies for personal to get the utmost benefit from assistive technologies.
3. Providing Support
There are as many definitions of the word "disabled" as there are disabilities. Each disability will require different levels and areas of support so it’s important to understand your employee and their specific needs. Don’t assume. Ask them what support they need in order to get their job done. Some examples could be providing sign language support, ensuring sign language material is available in brail and large PDF print outs.
4. Make Accessibility a Priority
Equal opportunity means equal accessibility! Accessibility is crucial when hiring disabled people as they need to be able to move around the workplace with ease, get their work done and enjoy the time spent on site! Accessibility in all areas of the workplace is crucial. Some basic necessities include: Wheelchair accessible doorways, ramps at entries and exits of buildings, wide corridors, accessible operating buttons and/or Braille in lifts, and accessible washrooms.
It’s also important to look at the accessibility of your website. Employees need to access corporate websites and other communication materials regularly. Ensure that websites comply with the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guideline (WCAG) 2.0 so all the employees have equal access to the information.
5. Be Honest
Last but not least is providing honest and fair feedback. In order to create an inclusive workplace employers need to be honest with appraisal and or constructive criticism irrespective of any bias. Equality means equality! Honest feedback will create better performance and responsibility over work. However, this may require leaders to receive the appropriate training on how to effectively communicate with their disabled colleges. Again, education is the most crucial element in creating a safe and friendly work environment for all abilities.
How do you implement equality and inclusivity in your business?