Did you know that it is estimated that one in four adults in the United States has a disability? However, that does not mean 25% of adults cannot be gainfully employed. So if you are a small business owner, you are responsible for creating an accessible workplace.
How do you improve accessibility? Keep reading to learn about workplace safety and making an environment welcoming to all candidates.
The Americans with Disabilities Act
Offices, public spaces, retail stores, restaurants, healthcare facilities, and so on are all spaces that need to be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. This became law over thirty years ago to provide necessary protections for disabled people. The guidelines set by the ADA are detailed and cover many areas to ensure proper access for everyone.
Your workspace must adhere to ADA guides under federal rule. However, if your small business is simply complying with the base standards of the ADA guidelines, that’s not enough.
If you want to communicate that you value equal access as a priority, you should be prepared to go beyond the rules as written.
Going Beyond the Standards
Baseline ADA standards are not the goal to reach in enhancing your workplace design. They are really just the bare minimum.
However, the standards governing accessible plans require bathrooms of a specific size, ramp access, proper counter heights, etc., which is good when designing a new building.
However, if an existing structure has barriers that keep the space from being freely accessible to disabled people, the issue is often ignored. If the remodeling is done quickly or cheaply, a business can make an appeal and declare there is nothing to do aside from leaving barriers in place.
Avoiding Accessibility Mistakes and Barriers
One of the more basic (and necessary) accommodations is accessible parking spots. If your workplace has up to 100 parking spots, the ADA only requires 4 accessible parking spots, one of which needs to be van accessible.
3 accessible and 1 van accessible spots for disabled people is the legal minimum, but that does not mean it is enough.
Accessibility Is Not Limited to Physical Surroundings
Disabled employees may need other tools or sources to ensure they can get their work done properly. This includes:
- Screen reader technology
- Assistive communication devices
- Braille signage
- Alt text added to all graphics
- Subtitles/closed captioning
- Adapted keyboards
- Talk to text and speech recognition programs
- Screen enlargement
There are many other types of assistive tech to explore. Remember, not all disabilities are visual, so if an employee requests a device to help them at work, trust their judgment.
Hire an Expert to Help Make Your Workplace Disability Friendly
Experts well versed in universal or inclusive design can highlight potential issues or point out what needs improvement in your workplace setup. There are many small things that make office settings inconvenient or difficult to work in for disabled people that you may not realize.
Inclusive design choices include making sure there is enough space between desks or other obstacles for a wheelchair or powerchair to navigate through. Doors with knob handles are not easy to open for everyone, so a change here may include changing the handle type.
View resources like vocational case management more ways to create a diverse workplace.
Building an Accessible Workplace Made Simple
The idea of creating an accessible workspace may seem overwhelming, but there are plenty of sources to help you out. It is vital that you meet ADA standards, but don’t stop there. Consult an expert in inclusive design to help you better your office and create a diverse workforce.
If you liked this article on accessibility in design, take a look at the rest of our website!