The main objective of designing a workplace policy for people with disabilities is inclusivity. It provides a framework as a guideline on the necessary support to accommodate them. However, some of the technologies are on a case-to-case basis due to the different levels of disabilities.
There is no comprehensive or blanket way to handle people with disabilities in the workplace. Identifying the exact needs of the employee determines the changes you make to enhance their comfort at work.
As much as the company provides all the necessary support systems, its success lies in the individual’s attitude. It explains the reason why they invest in capacity building, assisted technology, and training to allow them to gain full potential in their workplaces.
Why is it important to hire people with disabilities in the first place?
- Diversity in employment
- Provides opportunities to all, “an equal opportunity employer.”
- Increases productivity through an inclusive workforce
- Improves the companies brand
- Contributes to the social and cultural development of the economy
What to put in place to ensure your workplace is disability-friendly
- Assistive technology
According to WHO, over one billion people require assisted technology to aid their productivity at work. Products, systems, and equipment are among the must-have assisted technologies to include in places of work.
A disability-friendly workplace is fun with the availability of advanced technology. For example, a colored keyboard supports employees with blurred vision. Assistive audio devices enhance listening skills for deaf employees.
Employees with speech problems need speech recognizer as well as sign language digital tools, among other user-friendly web technologies. Despite the various disabilities, assistive technology enhances the quality of work.
It’s essential to take the employees through an onboarding process on how best to use the technologies. Otherwise, they may be invalid and offer no value to the targeted workers.
- Workplace policy on working with people with disabilities
Yes, there are disabled people on board; do you have principles and guidelines that cover them in your workplace?
Most states have a workplace policy that every company must follow, but at the company level, set your principles and workplace practices that govern and cushion your employees from any form of harassment. It states their rights and company inventions to accommodate them, among other issues.
- Creates workplace standards to govern all workers
- Bring some level of uniformity in access to services
- Equips employees with their rights at workplaces
- States the legal actions against any violations
- Addresses work ethics and workplace Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) procedures.
- Capacity building and training
An empowered staff understands the boundaries as well as the integration of people with disabilities. It provides a clear account of expectations and limitations when it comes to handling these delicate people.
Naturally, you may not understand what it takes to work or be with a disabled person. Through training, seminars, and workshops on the same, you enlighten your workforce on their organization’s commitment to have an inclusive staff and the best way to handle them.
You can’t ignore the fact that we have divergent opinions on this. The training creates leverage for equality in the workplace.
It answers all the doubtful questions
- Why have ‘they’ employed such people?
- Are we going to be assistants to them?
- Is it a must we have them at the workplace?
- Are there no other qualified personnel to fit the position?
- Will they add value to the company?
Away from traditional work ethics, to build the morale of these employees, the company can sponsor them to acquire new skills. It helps both the employer and the employee.
For example, training in an employee stick welding diversifies your options as a company. He is not only an employee (whatever position he holds) but also a company stick welder. Is that not an excellent way to earn more income?
Do you think this employee can this otherwise when it comes to leaving the company? An on-the-job trained employee is crucial in the organization even during the workplace Occupational Health and Safety policy strategic plan meetings.
He provides the right advice on the best welding helmets as protective gear for all employees, among other insights in metalwork industries. It is one way of enhancing staff retention.
- Improved access to health facilities within and outside the workplace
Most of the disabled employees require extra medical attention. What is your role as a company in the provision of access to health care services? The employer must provide the correct protective gear they need to enhance their productivity.
In case of hand disabilities, then protective gloves come in handy to enable the staff to work without hand fatigue. In the case of head injuries, do you have the correct helmets for them? Is your health insurance accommodative to all their physical needs?
Where possible, set up a first aid kit if not a clinic within the facility equipped with all the medical supplies as well as protective gear to minimize time wastage seeking medical services away from work.
- Focus on workplace accessibility
How are your disabled employees moving around from one place to the other? Do you have ramps, accessible wheelchair pathways, disability-friendly parking areas, toilets, among other essential areas any disabled employee needs?
In case of a fire outbreak, do you have a designed workplace evacuation plan for them? In short, there should be no limitation of movement just because of their physical disability. Once you open the door for the employment of people with disabilities, then change your work plan and redesign your pathways, doorways, and parking lots to integrate them as much as possible.
Dealing with people with disabilities in the workplace is simple and fun at the same time. You only need to ensure you have all the assistive technology to support their movement.
Engage them from time to time to understand their challenges to ensure you make changes that add value to their work life. Where necessary, seek external support. They need equal treatment like all the other employees.