As an employer, you have a duty of care to your staff and anyone that visits your workplace to provide a safe and inclusive space. And accessibility plays a huge role in achieving that.
Nowadays, it’s not only a social responsibility but also a legal requirement for your business to be compliant when it comes to accessibility.
Before we delve deeper, let’s have a look at what accessibility means and why it’s so important.
What is Accessibility?
Accessibility is about removing barriers for people with disabilities so that everyone has equal access to a building or a workplace. In many countries, it’s unlawful to discriminate against a person with a disability when it comes to accessing and using commercial spaces.
What Are the Most Common Types of Disabilities?
According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau from 2017, the top three types of disabilities among workers are:
- Ambulatory: use adaptive devices like wheelchairs and walkers
- Hearing: use hearing aids
- Vision: use glasses, probing canes
This data makes it easier to understand accessibility and how a workplace can solve these problems.
There are three things businesses should take into account when it comes to accessibility in the workplace:
- Physical Accessibility
- Technological Accessibility
- Attitudinal Awareness
Now think about your workplace. Can individuals that need adaptive devices get in and around the workplace without difficulty?
Do you have interactive screens and do you use accessible software? And how is disability addressed in your workplace – is it a transparent, inclusive communication, or is it something that’s not talked about?
Now armed with the essential information, let’s take a look at the 5 ways for your business to meet accessibility compliance in the workplace.
Developing Accessibility in the Workplace
Appropriate signage helps all to navigate their way around a space. But when it comes to the visually impaired, tactile indicators and braille lettering are cues that should be incorporated into the design.
“When the directional cues are installed in accordance with the guidelines, those with a disability have the ability to safely and independently navigate the building,” says Garth McAlpin, Director at Classic Architecture.
Entrances are very important when it comes to accessibility, and there are a few things to be mindful of when designing or renovating a space:
- Access. First of all, the access should start in the car park. Make sure that your business is compliant and has disabled parking bays readily available.
- Ramps. Make sure that the ramps have a safe slope percentage and have handrails available where required to stay compliant. “Keep in mind that tactile indicators (both warning and directional) are required at both the top and bottom of ramps, stairways or escalators,” adds McAlpin.
- Doors. If not designed correctly, doors can present a few accessibility challenges. First of all, they must be wide enough to allow passage. Secondly, heavy doors should be automated – with the buttons also accessible.
When it comes to corridors, hallways, and any passageways, they should be wide enough to accommodate passage.
Secondly, the flooring is also very important. Any poor carpeting that piles poses a hazard for anyone, let alone for those visually impaired, for wheels or canes. Also, plush rugs are not mobility-devices-friendly.
Another consideration is to make sure that any hazardous objects are out of the way, and that not only is there enough room to pass and good flooring, but that there’s adequate storage and there aren’t wayward objects around the premises that can cause injuries and accidents.
It’s important for your furniture to accommodate everyone. From enough room to circulate safely and comfortably, to desks and tables suited for all, the furniture in a workspace is the next requirement.
Desks and tables should have a specific height to accommodate assistive devices. Ergonomic and adjustable workstations are a great way to ensure that everyone can work comfortably.
Making websites and technology accessible makes a huge difference when it comes to inclusivity. Making information accessible, whether it’s a digital display at the right height, or the information it displays is eligible for all, is essential.
When it comes to software, your website and systems should have different options: transcripts for audio or text readers.
By now I hope you agree: everyone should have equal access everywhere. And we hope these 5 points will help you meet accessibility compliance in the workplace.
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