Not everyone works at the same pace. Some are slow and lazy; others are fast and productive. However, with persons with disabilities (PWDs), the story is different. When your business has a PWD employee, there are certain adjustments to be made to ensure they can work as well as their able-bodied counterparts.
There’s no one size fits all when it comes to disabilities. Every PWD is impaired differently. Some have different motor functions; other people have trouble learning things. Some have difficulty seeing or hearing. And then, others who get too overwhelmed by their senses. Some have physical or mental health conditions, as well.
It is up to employers to make reasonable adjustments in the office to accommodate any employee, regardless of whether they’re able or difficultly-abled. That’s what the equal opportunity laws in Australia uphold. Here are some examples of adjustments you can do to make your office PWD-friendly.
Universally Accessible Design
Sometimes, accessibility comes from the ground up. Design your office with universal design in mind, allowing anyone and everyone to move and work freely without the need for specialised tools. Doing so means people–whether they’re able, pregnant, or differently-abled–will use less physical effort without the need to adapt.
Some examples include wide corridors, easily readable signs, automatic doors in building entrances, handrails, ramps, and even elevators. Smart devices and other Internet of Things gadgets can accommodate people regardless of their ability.
Accessible office furniture
Another way to approach accessibility in the workplace is through office furniture. For those with back problems, for example, either a standing desk or a specialised office chair can help. You can also tailor custom-made office furniture from Melbourne furniture stores or wherever you are for your PWD employees.
Even just using adjustable desks or having easily accessible cabinets will make your employees comfortable.
With some adjustments to computers, differently-abled personnel can work at their optimum levels. For example, for people with visual impairment, big, magnified monitors can help them do their job. There are also some monitors with specialised colour filters for colourblind people.
Another helpful thing for visually impaired or blind people is text-to-speech. Computers often have these kinds of accessibility options built-in. Such features can help them work regardless of how their eyesight is.
You can also give them accessible computer peripherals, such as specialised keyboard and mice for those with learning, motor, or visual impairment.
Simple work adjustments
The littlest of changes can help a PWD employee in a big way. Closed captions on videos having Auslan interpreters can help the hearing-impaired. For those with chronic or mental health conditions, flexible working arrangements can help them do their work at their own time.
Some PWDs have service or emotional support animals. These animals assist differently-abled individuals on their tasks or provide comfort in times of psychiatric conditions or emotional distress. You can make certain adjustments by allowing these kinds of helpful animals to work with your PWD employees. That is, as long as proper accommodations are given to employees with animal allergies as well.
It’s always best to ask a PWD whether they need the said accessibility options or not. However, accommodating employees should be ingrained deep in your company. It’s ensuring each person can do the work they’re hired for by attending to their needs.
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