As a business owner, you are constantly working to make the best decisions for your business and your employees. With so many moving parts to juggle, it can be difficult to strike a balance where employees are cared for and satisfied, and the business wins as well. A simple way to improve the caliber of your organization while doing the right thing for your people? Emphasize accessibility and inclusiveness.
If you create a workplace that is proactive in its approach to disability inclusion, you can reap the immense benefits of a diverse professional community. People with different backgrounds can offer unique perspectives that enhance your mission and help you achieve your goals in innovative ways. By prioritizing the inclusion of all communities in your workplace, you will also improve your company culture and make your organization an amazing place to work for everyone.
Here are some tips to make your business more accessible and inclusive.
Foresight goes a long way
A great way to start your journey to a more accessible workplace is to take an honest and curious look around you. Based on what you already know about the importance of accessibility, where can your organization fail? Noticing immediate areas for improvement can put the tasks ahead and give you concrete actions to take right from the start.
For example, if an employee in your company regularly uses a service animal, do they have sufficient space for their dog and all assistance dog supplies that they need throughout the day? While the law doesn’t necessarily require you to take these minute details into account, these little observations can lead to adjustments that improve the quality of life for your staff on a daily basis.
Ensure ADA compliance
After this initial assessment of your workplace, check to see if your current operations meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The ADA requires that businesses and public spaces meet all basic accessibility standards in an effort to ensure fairness for people with disabilities. This includes things like table and counter heights that are accessible and hallway widths that can accommodate mobility equipment like wheelchairs and walkers.
ADA also has specific mandates when it comes to service animals. With an appropriate license to practice, employees who require the assistance of service animals are legally permitted to accompany them to work and other public and private spaces. ADA compliance should be the minimum accessibility standard for your business, ensuring that these criteria are met first and foremost.
Turn to the experts
When in doubt, it is always best to seek advice from organizations or individuals who advocate for the inclusion of disabilities in the workplace. It’s okay if you feel lost in the process, and it’s best to ask for help developing policies and standards within your organization from the start. If you feel comfortable, ask employees with disabilities in your workplace what they need to feel included and safe in the office. Listen to their experiences and follow their example, as they know more about their own experience than anyone else.
Another good time to turn to the experts for help – training. Investing in training all of your staff will ensure that everyone understands and supports people with disabilities in your workplace. Once this type of training becomes standard practice in your workplace, discussions about disability will be normalized. Those with specific accessibility needs will feel empowered and supported by asking for what they need.
You don’t have to be an expert to make your business accessible and inclusive for people of all skill levels. By prioritizing ADA compliance and training, listening to the needs of your staff, and planning ahead, you can make your business a welcoming and successful place to work for everyone.
Interesting related article: “What is compliance?” “