Here are 5 things you can do to make your workplace more accessible for disabled visitors.
I love to travel and visit new people and places. Planning, not so much. When I am well, travel is my favourite past time. I rarely plan. When I am unwell, it becomes overwhelming and planning is essential. For most disabled people, planning is not a choice. The outcome of a visit often depends on three things: The quality and depth of information available. The accessibility of the destination. And the welcome you receive. Here’s how to become part of the solution:
1) Check the ‘how to find us’ information on your organisation’s website.
Does it give simple, explicit instructions for all types of travel? Does it include a direct telephone number to call for directions if lost? Does it tell the visitor how accessible your workplace is? Every tourism destination should have an accessibility guide. A quick google of a few local venues shows access information on all. Why don’t businesses do the same? Disabled people work too! For a quick and easy win, take a photograph of the entrance to your organisation’s building. Add it to the ‘how to find us’ page of your website. It will make life easier for everyone that visits.
2) Review your signage.
Any community nurse, paramedic or postman, will tell you how bad we Brits are at showing people how to find us. Subtle, signage that blends into the building might be appealing, but it won’t help your visitors find you. Consider making life easier with signage that is clear and visible from a distance and fitted in an appropriate place. If that isn’t possible then a photograph of your organisation’s building becomes even more important.
3) Consider asking your visitor if they have any additional needs before they visit.
Having an open conversation about a disability is hard for many people. So much so, that many people avoid the subject altogether. But it can make all the difference for a disabled visitor. It’s completely reasonable to ask if a person has any additional needs. And it is completely reasonable for a disabled person to choose whether to disclose those needs. But choice is everything. Click here to learn more about disability etiquette.
4) Are your staff disability aware?
Esi Hardy, MD of Celebrating Disability, talked to me about the importance of a culture of inclusion in the workplace: “You can implement all the right tools, policies and procedures to make disabled customers feel welcome in your business, but your staff are quite often the first port of call. If they don’t have the right attitude or don’t understand disability, all your efforts will go to waste. Embedding a culture of inclusion supports your staff to understand what is expected of them in terms of empathy, diversity, tolerance and acceptance”. Effective diversity training empowers staff and experience tells us that companies that value an inclusive culture are a better experience for everyone, employees and customers alike.
5) How accessible is your website?
Everyone values an easy to navigate website. Interestingly, websites that are made accessible for people with sight impairment or issues with manual dexterity are far easier for everyone to use. Basic tools such as Alt Tags, that allow screen readers to read a picture on the screen, will enable a blind or partially sighted person to experience what you are trying to show them. And it’s not just users. Search engines prefer them too! Designing for accessibility is just good business. To find out more about making your service accessible, click here.
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