A guest blog around ensuring the office is accessible for disabled employees:
A Disability is neither an inability nor a personal choice. It can be as a result of heredity factors, pre-birth issues like chemical imbalances or disease and environmental factors. Forms of disabilities include physical limitations, sensory limitations, cognitive limitations, neurological, psychiatric limitation, multiple chemical sensitivity limitations and learning limitations.
Inclusive employment entails the act of employing disabled individuals. They should have access to employment the same way other individuals have. However, many workplaces have for a long time ignored the measures to take to accommodate a disabled person. These measures may include office refurbishment to suit disabled employees which are discussed below:
I. Tables and Desks with Adjustable Heights
This is one of the basic office refurbishment that is done for disabled employees. Almost all office tables are usually fixed and non-adjustable. This makes it hard for employees who use wheelchairs to comfortably work in that office. This is because the wheelchair itself is adjustable to the level that the disabled person in employment feels comfortable in at a certain time hence the table should also be adjustable to cater for this.
II. Ramps and Grab Bars
A ramp is a sloping surface that connects two levels of different heights. Although many offices have constructed ramps, research shows that there are still many levels in offices that do not have ramps to connect different offices. For a person using a wheelchair for movement from one place to the other in the office, the office will have to be refurbished by construction of ramps and grab bars.
III. Customised Phones
These are phones that cater for individual needs such as those of disabled people. This refurbishment must be done in an office because a visually impaired employee may need a phone with large buttons and/or one that has an automatic dialing system. An employee with hiring impairment may need a phone with headphone inputs or a phone with voice activated speakers.
IV. Organised Shelving System
Shelves hold files and items that are of use in the office. Inclusive offices should acknowledge the fact that the shelves should be refurbished to be of reasonable and accessible heights to all employees. For a visually impaired employee, the shelves should be organized in a way that the files are in a certain well known order for easy retrieval.
V. Cognitive Help
This is the use of recorded information to help some disabled employees in easy understanding. For example, for employees with learning disabilities, rather than using words to explain something in the office, it is advisable to have a place that you can draw diagrams and pictures that they will see and understand the information faster and clearer. Come up with ways that will allow for easy understanding of information like conducting training.
VI. Special Computer System
Visually impaired people may not be able to read from traditional computers. Instead, they could be provided with braille display devices that have the ability to read the screen and provide the information to braille for the employee. Screen readers which can read text out loud to employees can also be an alternative. In addition, the screen and keyboard placement should be flexible for employees with mobility impairments.
VII. Talking Calculator
This is an office calculator that can be used by the visually impaired as it communicates verbally to the user informing them the pressed number. It is a basic refurbishment because a calculator will always be needed in the office.
VIII. Non-skid mat
This is a special mat that ensures that the working materials like the desk do not skid. It is useful to the visually impaired as well as persons on wheelchairs who might accidentally move a desk to a wrong position while on movement in the office.
Refurbishment of the offices to suit disabled people has led to an increase in the number of disabled employees in offices. Disability related employment should above all cater for the rights of an employee with a disability by ensuring that they are not discriminated against.
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