Organizations are at their best when they welcome, respect, and include people of all backgrounds. This includes people with disabilities. October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month – a national campaign that celebrates all the contributions of workers with disabilities and brings awareness to employment issues.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 4 adults in America have a physical, sensory, cognitive, or mental health disability. This makes people with disabilities one of the biggest minorities in the United States. Yet, only 20 percent of people with disabilities are in the workforce compared to the 69 percent of people without disabilities.
Here are four ways we can make the workplace more accessible for everyone.
Hold meetings and conferences in accessible places. It’s important that the space where you’re hosting meetings or other events are accessible for all individuals. This means ensuring that ramps and elevators are available. If your current space is not accessible for all, you might want to consider renting an alternative space.
Allow employees to take mental health days. All employers want their employees working at their best. Everyone has their own approach to self-care and it is not up to employers to determine what this looks like. Instead, create an environment that encourages employees to take time off as they see fit.
Create presentations with accessibility in mind. For employees who are blind or have limited vision, presentations need to be as accessible. For instance, Microsoft PowerPoint has an Accessibility Checker feature to make sure each slide has alternative texts for visuals, and that the order of the slides are in the right place so others can follow.
Use closed-captioned videos. Similar to presentations, videos should include subtitles or closed captioning. Many platforms, like YouTube and Instagram, will allow for closed captioning.
These are some helpful ways that you can begin thinking about accessibility at work. Start making it a priority to turn your workspace into one that is not only accessible, but also includes disability in the conversation surrounding diversity and inclusion in the workforce.