It is 2022, which means that we should be living in a time where everybody is included in everything. Regardless of ability or disability, height or weight, skin colour or sexual orientation, the workplace is one place everybody should be included. Unfortunately, there are too many companies out there who are not making their spaces disability friendly. The next time you enter a business property, one of the first things that you may notice is there could be more disabled access on offer – but only if the company cares about the welfare of their employees.
It’s not about meeting a quota, it’s about ensuring people of all abilities are able to come into work, do a job they love and go home at the end of the day just as easily as able-bodied individuals. It doesn’t matter whether or not you are starting out, or you are already in business – you can make changes that make your workplace more disability friendly. From reading resources like the Standards Australia – Lift Installation guide, to asking your employees what you could do to accommodate them better, you need to do better for the people who work for you. While you are creating something amazing, make sure that you’re including people who would like to be included. Disability or not, your business needs to step up. You don’t have to have experienced disabilities to be empathetic and compassionate to others so here are some of the ways you can make your business more disability friendly.
- Look at your access. From your car park to your entrances, you need to be looking at the disabled access ramps. Installing access ramps is without question one of the most effective and understanding methods of making your business more accessible to all those using wheelchairs and those who cannot overcome physical barriers. When you install ramps, you take away the need for those with less mobility to lift themselves up steps. You might not think it will make a big difference, but ask your staff; we bet they’ll say it does.
- Embrace technology. Another one of the better ways that you can ensure that your business is more disabled friendly, is to use electric window openers. Not everybody has the ability to get a hand around the window knobs and turn them to open the windows, especially if they’re stiff. Electric window openers will ensure that nobody has to deal with hot and humid offices in stuffy weather. Opening the windows is a much simpler process as all you need to do is press the button. While we are on the subject of technology, consider whether or not your office is friendly to those with hearing aids. There are so many technological things that you could be doing to make your business more accessible, and it’s a better idea if you do some research.
- Are you trained in fire safety? All those drills that you do to make sure that your employees know how to react and know where to go in the event of a fire, these need to include those who are less able-bodied than the rest of you. Disability friendly businesses are always calling the fire department to help them learn how to rescue those in wheelchairs and those with poor mobility when there is an issue. It should be a part of your training, and the same goes if you have multiple floors because you cannot use the elevator in the event of a fire.
- Include diversity training. We may be in 2022, but not everybody is aware of the world and how things work. There is still a lot of stigma aimed toward those with disabilities, but if you supply diversity training, you can teach employees how to use more inclusive language and act inclusive in the office. It can help to educate those who need to understand how to treat others in a way that is sensitive, and that means not making crass remarks.
- Provide disabled parking spaces. If you want people walking to your office for that job, you need to make sure they can park close enough to the doors they don’t have to walk a mile across the car park to get there. Disabled parking spaces in your car park are fantastic, because they provide an unobstructed entrance directly to the business. This will also encourage more diverse people to apply to work with your company. This is because they can see you are making the effort to be inclusive.
Image Credits: Jakub Pabis