Access isn’t all physical
When people think of disabled access and equality for disabled people, they most commonly think about the physical implications:
- Ramp or level access into buildings
- Accessible toilets
- Physical access to public transport and so on…
There is no denying that these are important, but when we think of where they come from, they all lead back to somebody having the idea of making things accessible for disabled people in the first place. They lead back to attitude.
In the workplace, we appropriately think about how a disabled person can physically access the space around them. The Accessible Workplace blog talks about this in more detail.
Imagine that you have implemented all of the things needed for your physically disabled employee to access the building and carry out the job. I would like to share a few thoughts that can help ensure your disabled employee feels welcome.
Accessible parking bays
How many accessible parking bays do you have and how big are they? I have been to many company carparks where the accessible parking bay is no wider and no closer than the general parking bays. This says to me that thought has not been put into my comfort and makes me feel unwelcome and not thought of.
Access to buildings
Having physical access to buildings is great but if that entrance is in a different place to the general entrance, it could feel as though this has been put in as an afterthought.
Attitudes towards disability
Ensuring your staff are comfortable around disabled people should be a top priority. Whether that disabled person is a visitor, a customer or employee, your staff represent your businesses brand. A disabled employee, customer or visitor should expect the same treatment as a non disabled person, therefore ensuring your staff are confident when talking to a disabled person is paramount. Encourage your staff to be inclusive of all disabilities; physical or hidden.
Implement policies that ensure inclusion of all disability. Ensure these policies are transparent and encourage equality. Examples of some policies could include:
- Reasonable adjustments
- Flexible working
- Equality and diversity
- Accessible documents and alternative formats
You could also have a policy within your sickness absence policies that reflect people with long-term health conditions.
Lastly make sure staff benefits and rewards are inclusive of disabled people. These things might seem minor but can make the difference between somebody feeling welcome, wanted and thought about or excluded and under-valued.
Hear from disabled people about how attitudes in the workplace shape their experiences. #PartofMe
Esi (pronounced SE) set up Celebrating Disability in 2017; offering training, consulting and auditing to support businesses attract, engage and retain disabled people. Having the opportunity to support businesses to see the wealth of benefits that disabled people can bring to business, either as customers or employees is a privilege. She is passionate about disability equality and inclusion and loves nothing more than that “Ah ha” moment with a client when they see what disability equality and inclusion can do for them.
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