How to Make Your Workplace More Accessible
How accessible is your workplace? It’s an important question to ask and it covers many more aspects than you might think. When we think about accessibility, many of us picture disabled access like ramps or a wheelchair lift, but accessibility also includes meeting the needs of those who are blind, deaf or dyslexic, to name just a few.
Everyone in society deserves an equal opportunity and it’s important for workplaces to meet the needs of those who may be less able. Nearly one in five people in the UK have some form of disability, including eight million of working age, so it’s vital for employers to be as inclusive as possible. The 2010 Equality Act also states that there can be serious penalties for discriminating against someone based on their disability, so employers have a duty to make sure that all employees can perform to the best of their ability.
There are plenty of ways to ensure that your workplace is disability friendly and accessible for all, so if you need to make some adaptations, read on to find out more.
Add a new lift installation
People may be unable to use the stairs for many reasons, including old age, a physical disability or a temporary injury. Many offices and workplaces are also spread out across more than one floor, so it’s essential to add a lift installation if you haven’t done so already.
Lifts come in many different forms and ensure that people can move easily between floors where needed. Some workplaces might think they don’t need to add disabled lift access if they don’t employ anyone with a physical disability, but what about visitors, or future employees? Think about the type of lift that’s best for your building; you might need just one traditional passenger lift or an additional wheelchair lift at the entrance to your building. A professional lift company or mobility expert will be able to advise you before you make any changes, so it’s worth getting in touch.
There’s a wealth of assistive technology on the market nowadays to help people with a wide range of disabilities. Common forms of assistive technology include colour coded keyboards, Braille displays, screen reader software, sign language apps and assistive listening devices. Consider what your workplace needs in order to make it as accessible as possible and provide training so that employees know how to make the most of the technology.
A resource like My Computer, My Way can be invaluable for disabled employees as it gives a step by step guide for how to make a computer, tablet, laptop or smartphone easier to use. There are four categories to help narrow down which adaptations you might need; sight, hearing, motor and cognitive.
Investing in employee education and training is arguably just as important as the physical aids themselves. An inclusive atmosphere is essential if you want your workplace to be truly accessible, so run regular training sessions to educate all employees on what it means to be inclusive and how they can work together to ensure the workplace is as accessible as possible. Training can also make able-bodied employees aware of obstacles that their disabled colleagues might face and ensure that they’re best equipped to help.
Covid-19 has led to a huge rise in flexible and remote working and this can be a huge benefit to disabled employees. Employers should be open to allowing later start or finish times, or let employees work from home where needed. This helps all workers feel valued and allows everyone to give their best possible performance. It’s also important to ensure that everyone has the equipment they need for remote working, so talk to your employees about what they might require.
Seek external support
External organisations like Disability Rights UK can be very useful when it comes to educating employers and staff about building a more inclusive workplace. Don’t be afraid to get in contact with local or national organisations and ask for help about how you can ensure your workplace is as accessible as possible.
Some organisations might also be available to hold training workshops or seminars to educate employers about inclusivity in the workplace.
Disabled parking spaces are essential if you’re looking to build a more accessible workplace, so ensure at least one or two parking spaces are reserved for disabled badge holders only. The spaces should be as close to the front of the building as possible and clearly marked.
Ramps and doorways
Ramps should be included at each entry and exit to your workplace, or add a wheelchair lift if that’s easier. If there are several steps leading up to the entrance then you’ll need to install a permanent concrete ramp, but if there’s one small step then you may be able to use a portable ramp that can be folded out when needed.
Workplaces will also need to make sure that their doors and corridors are wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs or mobility scooters. If not, then door widening is actually a relatively simple procedure and can be completed within a couple of hours. Doors need to be a minimum of 36 inches wide for a wheelchair to comfortably pass through.
The right facilities
Accessible workplaces need to ensure they have the right facilities to support disabled employees, including at least one disability friendly bathroom on each floor. You might also need some additional equipment like handrails, chairs or desks at a certain height and buttons to automatically open doors. Resources should be accessible to, so make sure you have Braille versions of handouts if needed or text to speech software.
You may also need to think about the layout of the office; could a wheelchair comfortably move around? Are there desks or cables which could get in the way or be a trip hazard? Ensure that any disabled employees can easily access their desk and have everything else they might need, such as height adjustable monitors and easily accessible plug sockets.
Focus on health and wellbeing
The most accessible type of workplace is one where all employees feel happy, healthy and relaxed. Think about what your workplace could do to improve employee health and wellbeing, such as adding a relaxation room or offering free gym classes. Additional facilities like sleep pods and games rooms are becoming increasingly common in workplaces and these types of facilities help to create a more productive workplace.
Lift installations in the South West – From the experts at Euro Lifts Ltd
If you’re looking to increase the accessibility of your workplace, consider a lift installation from the professionals at Euro Lifts Limited. As one of the most trusted lift installation companies in the South West, we’re proud to offer a wide range of lifts to suit a variety of needs. Whether you’re looking for a stairlift, wheelchair lift, passenger lift or mobility aids (including walking frames and sticks), we have it all.
We also offer comprehensive maintenance and repair services for any existing lifts in your building, so you can rest assured that your premises are accessible at all times. We’re also available for emergency callouts, so you can solve the problem as soon as possible and get back to business. For more information or to discuss your accessibility requirements, give us a call today or visit our website.