In the last few years, there may have been some progress regarding the employment of disabled people. Still, it seems as though the percentage of such a workforce could definitely be higher than it is already. Two things prevent that number from going higher — employees and their doubts.
Namely, the majority of them have their fair share of doubts when it comes to disabled people’s ability to adapt and effectively communicate with others. What most employers don’t know is that with the help of accessible communication such as the intranet, they can successfully complete work assignments like everyone else.
Take a look at all the things employees can do in the workplace to accommodate people with disabilities and help them reach their full potential.
When there is a will, there is a way. If employers are open to the possibility of hiring disabled people, they will do whatever it takes to make it happen. The first and most logical step would be to use different techniques and methods when it comes to interviewing candidates for a specific position. For example, employers should hire interpreters or prepare questions in their written form for candidates with hearing impairment.
More importantly, HR managers should try to meet any specific needs candidates might have as much as possible. To illustrate, a completely deaf candidate requires different adjustments regarding communication from the one who uses hearing aids. In this situation, employers might want to take advantage of assistive technology that disabled people are already familiar with.
When employers hire people with disabilities, they shouldn’t hang them out to dry. During the first few weeks or a couple of months, they need assistance and support the most. With constant encouragement and help from employers and colleagues, disabled people will settle into their position and new work environment faster. They will be relying on assistive technology day in day out. That is why employers should make sure they have everything they need to function and operate in the office.
To that end, if possible, they can equip the office with necessary tools and gadgets and ensure their functionality at all times. Most often, employers aren’t familiar with assistive technology. In that case, they should consult new hires and engage them in the process of equipping the workspace.
Equally important for employers and staff members is to know how to use the tools and what their features are. At some point, they might break down, so employees with disabilities will need their help in fixing them. Besides, like all other technological devices, they need regular maintenance to work properly and serve their purpose.
Among aspects that employers and potential candidates should discuss is flexibility. This year, remote work has come to the rescue when the COVID-19 pandemic struck the world. This work arrangement has shown that home offices and virtual workplace can replace cubicles and boost business productivity. Contrary to popular belief, working parents aren’t the only ones allowed to work remotely and have flexible schedules.
Therefore, there is no reason why employers shouldn’t allow disabled employees to work from home if it is easier for them. They may already have all the equipment they need to work at home and might feel more comfortable this way. As far as accessible communication is concerned, some tools such as Zoom support caption insertion that allows people with hearing loss to attend video meetings. Moreover, they can also use social media for communication. For example, Facebook and its Help Desk feature allow people with disabilities to access the app and enjoy its content. Hence, working in the marketing industry shouldn’t pose a problem for them.
Every day, employees receive, send, and prepare tens or hundreds of documents. If disabled employees have the same or similar duties and responsibilities, then employers should make certain adjustments. This time, adjustments aren’t necessarily related to assistive technology. Employers should consider including different formats and features as a part of their business practice. For example, Braille should be the first choice when it comes to printing instructions and guidebooks. This should be the usual practice only for shorter texts, around ten pages in length. Moreover, they should use large prints and simple formats and adjust documents for PDF readers whenever possible. For communication with coworkers and managers, disabled people can also use voice messages. However, they can’t use this type of messaging for conveying tables or larger pieces of information.
In the end, a change in employers’ mindset is needed to give a chance to people with disabilities to pursue a career and become financially independent. Accessible communications can change their mind and banish all barriers standing in the way of hiring disabled people.