How to be more inclusive of disabilities in the workplace

At iDiversity we advocate the importance of putting diversity at the heart of the workplace; however that is more than just within the recruitment process. Inclusion isn’t created just by representation. To deliver solutions within the workplace that embrace inclusion and ensure those with disabilities feel valued and important, and are given the same opportunities to grow and succeed as their counterparts, we have created a list of steps so you can start to be more inclusive of people with disabilities in the work place.

1. Language and etiquette

It is important to review the language used in the workplace when referring to a person who has a disability, impairment or long term health condition. Be mindful to use terms that are respectful to everyone and talk to your teams about this. Do not make assumptions about a person, talk to them with respect and follow their lead and allow them to use their own terms for self-identifications.  Listen and take on board their feedback.  Remember that disabilities can also be invisible, for example, dyslexia.  Ask all staff if they have a disability, impairment or long term health condition they would like support with. Be open minded, have a willingness to learn and ask staff if there is anything they need within the workplace.  Allocate time to educate yourself.  If you have never heard of your colleague’s disability take the time to research it.  If you don’t already have one, consider creating a staff disability network.  Consult with stakeholders across the organisation to develop terms of reference and support services to share across your workplace.  It is also important to use the correct terminology and inclusive language when posting job adverts.  Identify the adaptions to accommodate those with disabilities at each stage of the recruitment process and promote these to encourage disabled candidates to apply.

2. Accessibility

When it comes to content creation, it is vital that your company meets web accessibility standards. You should think about meeting the needs of those who may have difficulty accessing digital content, for example, consider screen background colour, font and theme options, as well as content with the option for higher or lower contrast and screen readers. One person’s needs could be the complete opposite to another, so it is important that the content is accessible from the start and is created with those who may have difficulty accessing specific types of online content in mind.  On your website provide information and content in alternative formats so that your visitors can choose the best accessible options that work for them.

3. Inclusive Work Spaces

In regards to becoming more inclusive in the workplace, you must recognise the exclusions people face. Your office and workplace needs to meet the needs of those with a disability and not limit them in any way. They should be accommodated to be able to go about their work day easily, this could include changing the design and office layout, providing specialist chairs and desks, making sure there is a easy way for them to access and leave the building as well as navigate around it. You can be creative in this process, and bounce ideas back and forth to deliver solutions so you can ensure that you meet their requirements.

4. Workplace Adjustments

There is a legal requirement for all employers to make reasonable adjustments to support their employees with a disability in the workplace. The range of workplace adjustments can include; changing their equipment or modifying existing equipment, flexible hours and part-time working, supplying additional training including support sessions or courses on specific software, making physical changes to the office and workplace and changing the recruitment process so a candidate can be considered for a job. At the outset, an experienced Assessor can conduct a workplace adjustment assessment who will provide a report with the correct recommendations for the employee. The government also provides an Access to Work grant (insert web address) which can help pay for for certain types of adjustments and practical support an employee may need in the workplace.

5. Maintain Standards

Holding all of your employees to the same standard is important within work place dynamics. Make sure you don’t make assumptions that an employee with a disability can’t do certain tasks, as this can hinder them in regards to potential growth opportunities, and it is essential they get the same opportunities as every other employee.

Organisations can also sign up to the Disability Confident Scheme, which plays a role in changing businesses attitudes for the better encouraging them to think differently about disability, and is an opportunity for all employees to fulfill their potential and contribute to your teams success.

The scheme is completely free and you will have access to guidance, self-assessments and resources. There are three levels designed to guide you, which must be completed to successfully become a disability confident leader. This will also show your company’s dedication to becoming inclusive and identify to other businesses and customers that you are committed to equality in the workplace.

Once you begin taking steps to become more inclusive, it is important that you maintain these standards and review your workplace often and any changing factors that way you can keep a environment that suits everyone.

Visit our iDiversity shop to shop our range of assessment services that could be beneficial in providing support to help you create workplace adjustments, or if you would like more information please email us at info@idiversity.co.uk.



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