Times are changing for persons with disabilities in the workplace -- and inclusive employers are leading the charge. This starts with the basics: ensuring that employees with mobility-related disabilities have the tools and support they need to perform their tasks. Empowerment of a diverse workforce is only possible if employees are comfortable where they work.
So, how are inclusive employers doing this in the real world? There are number of ways that mobility accommodations can be met so employers can take their workforce to the next level.
Embracing telecommuting, work from home, and flex time options
In today’s digital world, more and more employees are effectively working from home. While this solution may not be for everyone, an inclusive workplace is all about providing something other than the “one-size-fits-all” approach.
For persons with mobility-related disabilities, getting to work may not be as easy as it is for the non-disabled. What many non-disabled folks consider to be routine and take for granted could be a difficult undertaking for someone with a mobility-related disability.
Thus, working from home can empower those in an inclusive workforce to help create schedules that work for everyone, and ease the burden of travel. Both employee and employer benefit from this -- and reap the benefits of increased productivity and work-life balance.
Providing reasonable accommodations
This one can be difficult to define, because there’s no rule set in stone for what “reasonable accommodations” may mean for any one individual. However, employers should be aware that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects persons with disabilities and establishes a framework for these requirements. ( For more information on the ADA, see ADA.gov or speak with your legal advisor .)
Again, though, what does “reasonable” mean? This depends on the employee who is affected. It’s up to the employee to disclose the disability to their employer; employers are not required to take a shot in the dark as to what accommodations will work for them.
But responsible, inclusive employers actively engage with their employees who are affected by disabilities. This helps them determine what would help empower them to do their jobs. That may include providing a distraction-free workspace for someone with a sensory or attention-deficit disorder, adjustments to office equipment for someone with a physical or mobility-related disorder, or allowing a support animal in the workplace to assist an employee with a vision disorder.
Some persons with disabilities may already have access to the tools they need to fully perform the requirements of their job, say a wheelchair or a prosthetic limb. However, other employees with disabilities may benefit from special tools that remove barriers.
Technology, of course, can make this much easier for employers – and they may have access to these features already without even knowing it . Many companies ranging from small businesses to major corporations are using software that already comes with assistive technologies baked-in. Some excellent examples are Microsoft mobility-related accessibility features :
- Dictate allows workers to easily convert speech-to-text in Office 365 applications.
- Office 365 is designed to work with keyboard-only setups, with shortcuts and the Tell Me feature.
- For workers who have mobility-related disabilities that make it difficult to use a keyboard, Office can even be controlled with eye-tracking hardware!
Ready to get started?
If you’re an employer looking to take the next step to becoming inclusive, remember that there are many ways you can remove barriers for your employees with mobility-related disabilities. Combine this with a true commitment to a diverse workforce and a dedication to hiring persons with disabilities and you’re on your way to increasing productivity and equality for all employees.