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Joni Prose
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Steps for a Disabled-friendly Workplace


How do you get the best employees to work at your company? Start by making your company more inclusive. Even though you are not discriminating against employees with disabilities, you might not being doing all you can to make your workplace as disabled-friendly as possible. Here are five simple steps your business can implement to make your work environment more inclusive:

  • Use technology, such as speech-to-text software to help a visually impaired employee, or captioning screens for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.
  • Partner with a nonprofit job-training agency in your community that provides job coaching for people with disabilities. This will enable you to understand what support employees may need at your company.
  • Include disability awareness throughout your company so that all employees understand the value of hiring a diverse workforce. You could include this information in diversity training, focusing on disability awareness and inclusion.
  • Make your office or facility an accessible environment by seeing that restrooms, hallways and storage spaces are accessible for people of all heights and mobility.
  • See that your online presence is more accessible by using alt tags that translate visual images and employs captioning on videos.

This information is provided by the Ruderman Family Foundation, which advocates for full inclusion of people with disabilities in society and is an excellent resource that supports effective programs, innovative partnerships and dynamic approaches.

Human resource experts suggest modifying recruitment and hiring practices to reach more diverse audiences. HR toolkits for engaging and retaining diverse teams start with people feeling that they can talk about a disability without fear of reprisal. So, dissipating closed environments helps staff morale, decreases absenteeism and increases productivity.

You can play an important role in setting the tone for a shift toward increased diversity and inclusiveness. Optimize channels for feedback, open communications and help negate fears people hold about diversity. A focus on openness isn't about being perfect — mistakes can be used for learning without embarrassing or shaming individuals.

Encourage employees' interests outside the workplace by offering opportunities to interact where employees feel comfortable. Allow all employees to take part in decision-making and planning, and acknowledge such observations as the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (December 3).

Reasonable accommodation aims to ensure that persons with disabilities can exercise human rights and fundamental freedoms equally with others. Making accommodations means necessary, appropriate modifications or adjustments that don't cost a lot of money.

Businesses need people with the ability to adapt to different situations and circumstances, and people with disabilities possess precisely these attributes. In the workplace, this translates to innovative thinking, fresh ideas and varied approaches to confronting challenges and achieving success.

A study conducted by the Job Accommodation Network (JAN), a service of the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy, shows that workplace accommodations not only are low-cost, but they also positively impact the workplace in many ways. JAN, in partnership with the West Virginia University School of Social Work, interviewed 1,157 employers between June 28, 2008, and July 31, 2016, representing a range of industry sectors and sizes. Results consistently showed that the benefits employers receive from making workplace accommodations far outweigh the low cost. Employers reported that providing accommodations resulted in reducing workers' compensation and training costs.

By providing documents in alternative formats, such as braille or large text, or making alternative arrangements for consultation meetings, such as holding them at an employee's home, you set the tone for your company's openness to offering everyone in the company an opportunity to succeed.

Let us know how we can help, especially when it comes to ADA compliance.


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Our firm provides the information in this e-newsletter for general guidance only, and does not constitute the provision of legal advice, tax advice, accounting services, investment advice, or professional consulting of any kind. The information provided herein should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional tax, accounting, legal, or other competent advisers. Before making any decision or taking any action, you should consult a professional adviser who has been provided with all pertinent facts relevant to your particular situation. The information is provided "as is," with no assurance or guarantee of completeness, accuracy, or timeliness of the information, and without warranty of any kind, express or implied, including but not limited to warranties of performance, merchantability, and fitness for a particular purpose.
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