How can organisations create more accessible workplaces?

Elly Yates-Roberts
By Elly Yates-Roberts on 14 February 2020
How can organisations create more accessible workplaces?

According to accessibility consultant and Microsoft change agent, Marco Pasqua, attitudinal barriers are among the top reasons why individuals with disabilities struggle to find work. Hiring organisations often worry about the impact of employing someone with a disability, for example, its effect on their work and how difficult it might be to accommodate their needs. 

In a recent Microsoft news story, he shared his top tips to help enterprises access the often-untapped talent pool and make their workplaces more inclusive:

Set the tone at the top
Whatever size your business, work with your leadership team to set a top-down commitment and vision for an accessible and inclusive workplace using strategies and policies. Showcase your inclusive strategy and approach on your website and public-facing materials. For example, Microsoft has begun several initiatives to help people with disabilities to use its products, which was partly inspired by Satya Nadella’s son Zain, who has Cerebral Palsy.

Review your hiring policies and job application process
Do you have a diversity and inclusion statement? Are your job applications accessible to screen readers? Review your job descriptions to ensure they are not unintentionally screening out a person with a disability just through the language used. 

Provide disability awareness training
This can be done through an external service or introduced through internal employee resource groups. Existing employees with disabilities may be willing to come forward and share their story. 

Offer workplace accommodation support
Providing equipment that can be adjusted to everyone’s needs is an easy way to foster a feeling of inclusivity. For example, use desks that are adjustable in height or task lighting for those who may have low vision. 

Create barrier-free pathways and aisles
Ensure all major pathways in key areas of the workplace are free of obstacles. 

Use large print and photos in documentation and signage
Provide documents with alternate print sizes. Larger sizes and simpler font types are much easier to read. Office 365 also features many new accessibility features such as automatic live captioning. 

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