The below is a guest post from Tom Appelbee and Graeme Firth from Fenetic Wellbeing
By law in the UK, all employers must treat all job applicants equally, regardless of any disabilities they may have. With this in mind, it is imperative that workplaces everywhere are prepared to welcome people with disabilities.
All over the UK there are workplaces that are physically inaccessible to those with disabilities, which makes applying for such jobs out of reach.
To combat this, workplaces must implement changes, however big or small, to create an accessible workplace.
Below are some of the changes that could be made to make the workplace that would help with welcoming people with disabilities:
Building access points
The first port of call is to think about every single access point into the building, and the outside parking area. The first thing is to assess whether all access points have stairs or not. If so, it is vital that an access ramp, stair lift or access lift is installed. Access points to a building are the first thing an employee will encounter, and if access is unfairly presented towards a person with disabilities this will cause an instant bad impression of the workplace.
Secondly, it’s important to ensure the building car park has dedicated disabled car parking spots near the entrance. Ideally, a workplace will have at least 4 car parking spaces accessible to those with disabilities.
Inside the workplace
When inside the building, it’s important to question the accessibility of the hallways and walkways leading to the office itself. If there are obstacles in the way, such as tables chairs, or decorative accessories, these need removing to create more space. This is important for wheelchair or mobility users especially, as they will need ample room to navigate to the office, particularly if the hallways are narrow.
When in the office, the same applies. There should be sufficient space for wheelchairs and mobility scooters to get around. Therefore, tables, desks, chairs, and storage solutions should be spaced out effectively for easy accessibility. In terms of desks, these should be pre-assessed to ensure wheelchairs and mobility scooters can fit under them, so the employee can stay seated in the mobility aid whilst working.
In terms of kitchen access, all kitchen essentials should be reachable from a wheelchair or mobility scooter, such as plates, glasses, tea, and coffee. Instead of putting them in higher kitchen cupboards put them at a lower level. As well as this, there should be specific toilets that are fully adapted to accommodate those with disabilities.
Other things to think about include installing equipment and aids for those who are deaf or visually impaired. Getting all staff to consider signing up to the British Sign Language course could make life easier for a deaf employee, and it would also be a great life skill to have.
Those with a disability such as Asperger’s may benefit from having a quiet space to escape, so, making hot desking an option could make employees feel more comfortable if the working environment is flexible.
It is important that those with a disability are welcomed into the team, just as those who are abled would be. Treat those with disabilities respectfully, as you would any other employee, but also make sure you are aware of their disability, without being patronising. Make sure they are part of the team, just like everyone else! Those with disabilities can join in with all workplace activities and team bonding sessions, however, these may have to be adapted slightly.
Always make sure employees with disabilities feel heard. When they start the job, ask if there is anything they need in terms of equipment or support that would help them fulfil their job properly. Ask if they have noticed anything that needs working on in the office, such as more team activities or even more free hot drink options! Make sure they know their opinion is valued. Have regular meetings with them to give yourself and them the opportunity to highlight any updates within the company, anything positive that the employee has done or any concerns you may need to raise.
If there are numerous people with disabilities in your workplace, it could be worth considering external support, to ensure you are giving them the correct support that they need.
For more information on mobility aids for physical workplace support, please contact Fenetic Wellbeing.
About the experts
From our humble beginnings as two friends working out of an attic in Keighley, to an award winning business serving over 100,000 satisfied customers nationwide.
Since 2009 we’ve collected awards including Entrepreneur of the Year, Business of the Year, and Independent Trader of the Year at the Keighley Business Awards.Here at Fenetic Wellbeing we make it easy to buy mobility products online. We work hard to provide a range of products that are high quality, fairly price, and backed by a level of after sales care you can rely on.
Image description: Tom Appelbee and Graeme Firth from Fenetic Wellbeing with some of their products.