More employers are realizing that just because someone has a physical disability it does not mean they would not be a valuable member of the workforce. In fact, often they work harder than able-bodied employees, as they want to prove that they are more than capable of doing the job.
About 20% of the workforce in the US has a disability of some kind, and that number is increasing as more workplaces become accessible to them. A disability-friendly workplace is not difficult to create and will allow disabled people to work to their full potential.
Make Your Employees Disability Aware
For disabled workers to be fully accepted the rest of the workforce need to understand their limitations and in what areas they may sometimes need help. You need to let all your employees know that your business is committed to being disabled-friendly and some quality training in these matters would dispel any fears existing employees may have.
Let Technology Help
Technology that can help disabled people has progressed a great deal in the last few years. Most modern jobs involve the use of computers and assistive technology can help a disabled person to work with them. You can buy color-coded keyboards, refreshable Braille displays, specialized screen reader software, assistive listening devices, speech recognition, and sign language apps. All of these things could make it simpler for a disabled person working with your business.
If you have workers that are confined to wheelchairs, using mobility walkers or walking with any other type of aid, they need to have easy access to all parts of the premises. You should have disabled parking available, ramps for them to get in and out of the building and wide doorways so they can move from room to room with ease. This applies to the rooms where they will be working as well as break rooms, cafeterias, toilet facilities, and meeting rooms. In fact, any common areas should be disabled-friendly to allow them to integrate with the rest of the workforce.
Operating buttons within elevators should be easy for them to reach and they should also be in Braille in case the person’s disability is impaired sight.
Ask For Constructive Feedback
Once you have done all these things and taken on your first disabled employees, after a few weeks you should call a staff meeting and ask for constructive feedback. There could well be things that had not occurred to you that need some adjustment, and you will find that often the suggestions come from the able-bodied workers who have watched the disabled workers struggle with something that could be remedied.
Disabled employees want to be treated the same as everyone else, and managers should not show any extra leniency toward them. That will upset both them and the other workers and will lead to resentment between the two. This is the type of thing that needs to be discussed at feedback sessions and must be addressed if a problem such as this arises.
Building a diverse workforce will aid productivity, as long as you have put the right measures in place.