While accommodating disabilities in the workplace may pose some initial challenges, the dimension and perspective it brings to your team is immeasurable. Open-mindedness, flexibility, and some consideration will make this move feasible and profitable for you (and them) in the long run.
While employers should not ask specifics about a disability, it’s a good idea to ask the disabled employee how they can best be accommodated for their work potential. Of course, any employer-made accommodations need to comply with all ADA guidelines.
Here are some ways that employers can meet legal and compassionate standards for disabled employees:
Employees with Visual Impairment
Landmark decisions have been enacted by laws to help disabled workers obtain employment without discrimination. This involves ensuring workplace accessibility for the visually impaired and disabled.
This may include access to “assistive technology” where the employee uses Braille or voice command systems; some systems include Scribe/Note taker or Talking Telephones. While not a legal requirement, they can greatly assist the visually impaired worker.
How to help disabled employees in the workplace? Total Jobs explains, “One of the most important things when trying to assist employees is to ask them. Many times they will know exactly what will help them be successful in the job, and so instead of guessing what they would like or what would help them, just ask them. It’s also essential to be supportive and thoughtful, but not to treat them differently.”
Employees With Hearing Loss
Providing equity means that you provide for someone’s needs fairly and impartially, regardless of their specific limitations. It’s about each employee getting what they need to succeed and access to opportunity.
Show equity to deaf employees by providing an interpreter. Hearing-impaired workers could also benefit from equipment with a light or large text when communicating. A workplace mentor can involve the hearing impaired with your team.
Reviewing the ADA policy and information available from the Office of Disability Employment can show you what accommodations work for the hearing impaired.
5 Star Interpreting recommends supplying employees and clients with an ASL interpreter if it could “level the playing field” for everyone. According to the top Sign Language interpreting agency, this is just an example of providing equity in the workplace.
Furthermore, the agency states that The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) and the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, Inc. (RID) uphold high standards of professionalism and ethical conduct for interpreters.
5 Star Interpreting stresses that companies hiring ASL interpreting services should make sure that these agencies are familiar with this code of conduct.
Employees With Speech Impairment
Employees with speech impairments could perform at the same level or even above non-impaired workers with little workplace adjustments. Disability degrees vary, but with the right accommodation, the speech-impaired employee can flourish.
There are numerous solutions to this including Aide/Assistant/Attendant, Outgoing Voice Amplification for telephones, and Writing/Editing Software plus numerous other options to assist anyone with a physical impairment.
According to Training Industry, “It’s always good to learn the different solutions to assist employees with disabilities. Check out what no tech, low tech, and high tech solutions there are for employees, and find the right one for them.
Let’s get real. Discrimination is hard to get rid of even though laws have been passed everywhere against it. That’s why it’s so important to raise awareness about this issue. Here are some disability discrimination in the workplace examples.
- Terminating an employee with a disability due to limitations caused by the disability.
- Failing to accommodate a worker’s disability that’s within reasonable
- Harassing a disabled employee with an offensive remark or physical threat.
If you read more disability discrimination in the workplace articles, there’s more that could be added to the list.
Disability and Employment
Disability and employment could certainly go hand in hand. Both could complement each other and actually be in a mutually beneficial relationship. How?
By hiring employees who have disabilities, you as an employer can greatly benefit from their level of expertise and experience in a wide range of areas to create a strong and diverse team in your company.
Those with physical impairments are eager and willing to take their place as productive members of the community. The progressive employer will see that benefit and be accommodating to any employee who needs specific tools to be a productive and happy worker.
To Sum Up
In this progressive world, the benefits of disability diversity in the workplace can’t be overlooked. Apart from creating a good image for your company, you’re also attracting a wider pool of applicants. You’re opening up to more creativity and productivity, and of course, you’re promoting equity.
Accommodating disabilities in the workplace isn’t rocket science. Use these simple guidelines to help you create a “place for everyone.”