Accessibility, assistive technology, and authentic representation are three areas companies can focus on to help employees with disabilities find their voice and reach their full potential.
To reap the benefits of a diverse workforce, it’s essential to set up an inclusive workplace that goes above and beyond merely being “ADA compliant.” Steps toward achieving this can include making sure all company events – formal, informal, and digital – are accessible to all.
As workplaces incorporate new digital technologies and video conferences replace in-person meetings, employers should think about digital accessibility as an extension of the accommodations we have come to expect in an office environment, such as wheelchair ramps and/or designated parking spots.
Assistive technologies, such as dual headsets, should be provided quietly, so as not to call too much attention to a disabled employee’s condition, but not done in such a way that it discourages other employees from making the same request. In many cases, the cost difference between an accommodation and a traditional piece of office equipment is negligible, yet it could have a dramatic impact on an employee’s comfort and subsequent work output.
Employee resource groups can go a long way not only in terms of helping disabled employees connect with their peers and coworkers, but normalization can be taken a step further by including individuals with disabilities in recruitment, training, and promotional materials.