8 Simple Steps to Improve Accessibility and Equality in the Workplace

Accessibility is the foundation for equality and equity. The more accessible something is, the more people will be able to use it.

When you talk about accessibility, it is not just about individuals with disabilities. It's about everyone. Accessible content can help people with cognitive disabilities, older adults, and those who speak a different language or have a different culture.

Accessibility is the idea that everyone should have equal access to everything, no matter who they are or what they need.

If you want to make your workplace more inclusive, open, and welcoming to all, improving accessibility is a step you shouldn't skip. Otherwise, you might be alienating members of your workforce without meaning to when you can do differently.

Here are eight simple steps you can use to start improving accessibility and overall equality in the workplace.

1. Start with the hiring process.

We all know that the hiring process is challenging. It's hard to find the right people who are a good fit for your company. And most companies have biases and make assumptions about what they think is the perfect candidate.

The first thing you want to do is create an inclusive environment for all applicants. You need to be aware of any unconscious biases in your hiring process. For example, if you're not looking at resumes from particular schools or areas or only interviewing people who live on one side of town, it's not accessible.

It would be best to consider providing appropriate accommodations for candidates taking part in interviews via video chat. This option would allow people with hearing impairments, visual impairments, speech impairments, and other disabilities the same opportunity as everyone else.

2. Create and encourage a safe work environment

There are many ways companies can create and encourage a safe work environment in an accessible way. One of them is to make sure that there are no barriers for people with disabilities. Another way is by ensuring that all employees know about the company's policies on harassment, bullying, and discrimination.

The work environment should be safe for everyone. Creating a safe work environment is not just about ensuring that the building doesn't have any safety hazards but also about ensuring that your work environment treats people with equity and respect.

Some companies provide a safe work environment by being proactive and creating policies to protect employees from harassment and discrimination. Other companies try to create a safe work environment through support, such as counseling or therapy services for employees who have experienced trauma or are dealing with mental health issues.

3. Embrace assistive technology

Although assistive technology might sound unfamiliar, especially if you're non-disabled, it's not that strange. A simple example of assistive technology would be the addition of subtitles. Suppose you invest in more software that focuses on transcribing audio for your internal and external video content. In that case, it makes it a lot easier for those who may be hard of hearing to understand the video.

Plus, it's more convenient because you can use the transcript to make it easier to look for a part of the content you specifically want. Therefore, you are making your workplace more accessible and are making it more effective and efficient to work in for everyone.

4. Track and eliminate any biases

A workplace is a place where we should be able to feel safe. It is a place where we should be able to do our jobs without feeling any discrimination. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.

Many biases can affect the workplace environment, and you need to eliminate them for us to have a more equal and accessible work environment.

Bias is something that we all have. It's natural, and it's also human nature. The problem with bias is that it can affect people's decisions about their coworkers, resulting in discrimination or inequality in the workplace environment.

It would help if you changed this so that everyone has the same opportunities at work regardless of their race, gender, ethnicity, or other personal characteristics.

5. Providing suitable training

There are many ways companies can provide suitable training to make their workplaces more accessible. For example, they can offer parental leave and flexible working hours. They can also provide training on communicating with people with disabilities and provide sign language interpreters when needed.

You can train your employees and yourself to ensure that it's easier for everyone to know how they can be more accessible and equal to everyone in the workplace.

6. Ensure easy access to your services

It is vital to ensure that the workplace is accessible for everyone. To do this, we need to make sure that there are enough accessible parts of the workplace. This principle means that there should be a part of the workspace that is wheelchair accessible and also areas where people can access with a cane or walker.

Accessibility shouldn't be an afterthought but a consideration from the start of the design process.

You can achieve accessibility by ensuring that there are enough spaces in the workplace for people to work in their preferred way, such as standing at desks or sitting on a stool.

7. Hear from other voices

Many people in the workplace feel that no one is listening to them. They think no one includes them in any decision-making and that no one is taking their input seriously.

It would help if you listened to everyone's voices to make the workplace more accessible and inclusive. Sometimes, it's not just about listening to the majority. If you genuinely want to improve the workplace, consider asking the people who will benefit from it the most.

When you apply what you've learned from listening to them, people will appreciate it, and you create a stronger bond in the workplace.

8. Provide flexibility in the workplace

Flexibility in the workplace is vital for many reasons. It helps to create a more inclusive environment, makes the workplace more accessible, and it can help people to balance their work and personal lives.

Some of the ways that flexibility in the workplace helps to make it more accessible include:

  • creating an inclusive environment by making it easier for people with disabilities and those with caregiving responsibilities to work;
  • making the workplace more accessible by providing equipment that those with disabilities can use;
  • and providing flexible schedules so that employees can balance their work and personal lives.

Final Thoughts

Accessibility isn't just about adding a wheelchair ramp at the entrance of your office. It's about listening to everyone, including them, and ensuring that you give people the best chance to be themselves and do the work they want to do. Hopefully, you can achieve that with the help of the steps listed in this article.

About the Author:

Andi Croft is a freelance writer interested in topics related to business, technology, and travel. She has a passion for meeting people from all walks of life and bringing along the latest tech to enhance her adventures. To see more you can follow her on Twitter.

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