How To Create A Disability Friendly Workplace

Disability in the workplace

An ideal work environment will aim to make sure all their employers are comfortable and happy with their workspace. But many may forget to implement changes that will both assist and enrich the working life of anyone who has a disability, whether this is visible or invisible.

Employers are required by health and safety legislation to ensure that there are ‘reasonable adjustments’ made to any workplaces or jobs for disabled workers.  According to the Equality Act 2010, someone is considered disabled if they have a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on daily activities.

Despite this being a legal requirement, there will be many workplaces that do not meet the requirements to accommodate differing needs for employees. It is incredibly important that employers should make active attempts to make the workspace more accessible for disabled workers.

Disabled Workers Make A Significant Portion Of UK Workers

Many people may assume that someone is only disabled if they have a visible disability, but there are millions who has disabilities that are invisible or only visible under certain circumstances. According to the 2015/16 Family Resources Survey from the Department for Work and Pensions, 18% of working-age Briton’s reported a disability.

The recent April to June 2017 Labour Force Survey reported that 3.4 million people in employment are disabled, showing that a significant portion of the British working force reports a disability of some kind. It is crucial then that employers recognise that workplaces must be accommodating for everyone.

What Can Employers Do To?

Employers should always be looking to make the workspace more comfortable and accessible for their employees, which makes it doubly important that disabled workers needs are taken into consideration.

Adapting the workplace to accommodate disabilities, such as adding ramps to allow wheelchair users access to lower level floors, can make a workspace far more inviting. A height adjustable desk can also allow a wheelchair user to work in comfort, allowing them to adjust the desk to achieve their preferred working height.

Bookcases, filing cabinets and more can be switched from the traditional vertical format to a lateral format or instead choose desk high cabinets. This will allow filing to be simple and easy for both those who can access higher shelves and those who cannot.

Information should always be presented in accessible formats such as Braille for visually impaired or blind workers or a hearing medium should be presented for hard of hearing or deaf workers. This can also be extended to creating information that is easy for those with dyslexia, dyspraxia and other conditions to read as well.

Providing ergonomic equipment such as special keyboards for those with arthritis or back supports for workers with back problems can help to make the working day more comfortable as well.

It is not just the actual physical working environment that should be considered for disabled workers, but also the working day itself. Flexible working should be considered for disabled employees to accommodate for their needs.

There are many other ways that the workspace can be changed to not only help accommodate disabilities, but also make working life easier. We’ve given just a few tips that can be undertaken, but employers seeking to make changes they should make sure to research the correct changes that will be necessary.

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Sarah Jubb

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