A productive workplace is fully functional for everyone who works there, including employees who might have specialized needs. By taking accessibility into consideration, you can be better prepared to recruit and retain valuable workers who may need accommodations.

1. Be Inclusive

Make sure your workplace is inclusive and caters to diversity. Unfortunately, even some businesses that try to create such an environment still overlook accessibility measures that can better serve the needs of individuals with disabilities. Get to know employees and associates and the needs they have, and evaluate what changes can be made to your workplace to better serve them.

2. Make Sure Meeting Places Are Accessible

Even some disability-inclusive workplaces may have areas that aren't as accessible as others. When you hold meetings, ensure they are, in fact, held in places that have the proper accessibility features. If you have meetings outside of your own office building, be sure to find a venue that will meet everyone’s needs. Contact the management of the venue beforehand and ask them about such features.

If you're not leading the meeting, this information needs to be communicated to the person who is. They should not only be ensuring they are conducting the meeting in an accessible venue, but they should have an understanding of the needs of differently-abled participants.

3. Consider Both Physical and Technological Accessibility

When many people think about accessibility, they tend to think about physical accessibility modifications, but businesses need to consider the technological aspects, as well, to be truly inclusive.

"Clearly, a disability-inclusive workplace is an accessible workplace, and in this day and age, this means not only physical accessibility, such as wheelchair ramps, braille signage and accessible restrooms, but also digital accessibility, where information and communication technology is accessible to all and/or compatible with assistive technology devices," according to EARN (Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion).1

Accessible technology is either directly accessible (usable without additional assistive technology or AT), or is compatible with assistive technology. “For example,” says EARN, “a mobile smartphone with a built-in screen reader is directly accessible, whereas a website that can be navigated effectively by people with visual impairments using a screen reader is AT-compatible.”

4. Make Expectations Clear

Part of fostering an accessible and inclusive work environment is making sure everyone there understands what the expectations are. Provide messaging that details steps workers can take to help cater to this type of environment. One example might be requiring office doors to remain open for easier access. Another might be to reserve a specific parking space or bathroom stall for someone who needs it.

You can also let employees know who they should talk to if they need specific accommodations so they can not only get what they need with minimal hassle, but also know that you are willing to provide those accommodations in the first place.

5. Think About Accessibility at the Candidate Level

Accessibility for current employees is one thing, but don't overlook measures for candidates. For one, any job candidate should know they are applying for/interviewing with a business that can meet their needs. This can prevent them from turning away at the outset.

Considerations should include parking, ramps/handrails, an accessible entrance, doors that are wide enough for wheelchairs, accessible restrooms and elevators, and accessibility at the place of application and interview.

During an interview, speak with the candidate about their needs and ensure they can be met. Do not let such needs influence your decision on whether or not to hire them.

Accessibility should not be an afterthought. Regardless of whether your current staff has any particular needs, you should go out of your way to create an accessible work environment that will make anyone feel comfortable and able to perform their job well.

1. https://askearn.org/page/creating-an-accessible-and-welcoming-workplace

The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice. Any views expressed in this article may not necessarily be those of Nevada State Bank. Nevada State Bank is a division of Zions Bancorporation, N.A. Member FDIC