In today's diverse workforce, fostering an inclusive workplace is not just a moral imperative but also a strategic advantage for businesses. Employers, managers and supervisors play a crucial role in ensuring that employees with disabilities - especially those with visual impairments - have equitable opportunities and a supportive work environment.
Creating an accessible and inclusive workplace benefits everyone and enhances overall productivity and job satisfaction. In Part 3 of the series, we outline each area you'll need to consider to create a truly accessible environment. If you missed the previous blogs in this series, 'The Keys to Hiring the Best Talent Part 1 and Part 2', you can catch up by visiting the Dolphin Blog.
Access to information is fundamental for all employees, including those with visual impairments. Companies should strive to be paperless - any printed documents need accessible digital options, or employees should be provided the tools to scan and convert print documents to digital formats. Essentially, each employee with a visual impairment should have equitable and flexible access to the same information and opportunities as their sighted peers.
How to make your documents accessible:
- Use screen-readable file formats such as .RTF, .DOCX, and Accessible PDF for documents.
- Provide alt text for images and diagrams.
- Use style tools to create headings, bullet points, and clear formatting to make documents easy to navigate.
- Consider providing documents in Braille or audio formats if necessary.
How to make server content accessible:
- Ensure your company's intranet or server content is designed with accessibility in mind.
- Use responsive design to make web content adaptable to different devices and screen readers.
- Ensure that all multimedia content, such as videos, includes captioning or transcripts.
- Implement a robust search functionality to help employees find information easily.
Inclusive Meetings and Presentations
Creating inclusive meetings and presentations is essential for the professional growth and participation of employees with visual impairments and neurodiversities.
How to make meeting agendas and materials accessible:
- Distribute accessible formats of meeting agendas, materials and handouts in advance. This allows time for employees to prepare and use assistive technology if needed.
- Make sure PowerPoint presentations are accessible. You can do this by providing your slides as an accessible PDF in advance.
Accessible meeting etiquette:
- Encourage a culture of inclusivity by promoting respectful meeting etiquette.
- When meeting virtually, ensure speakers identify themselves when speaking.
- Verbalize any non-verbal communication (like nodding your head in agreement) to assist attendees in understanding the context.
- Utilize virtual meeting platforms with accessibility features.
- Enable closed captioning and screen-sharing options.
- Promote the use of electronic braille displays for real-time access to presentations.
- If your meetings are online, do not insist that remote attendees have their videos on.
Training and Awareness
Creating an inclusive workplace requires ongoing training and awareness initiatives for all your team members.
Provide Disability Awareness Training:
- Provide disability awareness training for all employees to foster understanding and empathy.
- Offer specialized training to supervisors and managers about how to better accommodate employees with disabilities.
Designated Accessibility Champions:
- Designate accessibility champions within your organization who can serve as advocates and resources for employees with disabilities.
- Encourage regular meetings to discuss accessibility challenges and solutions.
Enable Flexible Schedules:
Flexible Work Arrangements are key to accommodating the diverse needs of employees, including those with visual impairments.
- Offer flexible work hours, allowing employees to choose schedules that suit their needs.
- Consider remote work options when appropriate.
- Be sympathetic to the needs of some employees to attend additional medical appointments.
- Provide the necessary technology and resources for telecommuting.
- Ensure that remote work platforms and tools are accessible.
Many individuals with print impairments – including visual impairment, cognitive or physical disabilities and neurodiversity - use assistive technology to navigate, access and read information. Employers should be aware of these tools and provide support when needed.
Magnification, Screen Readers and Text-to-Speech Tools:
- Ensure that your company software and systems are compatible with popular assistive technology tools like SuperNova Enterprise.
- Support employees with visual impairments by providing magnification software that allows for color scheme adjustment, highlighting, and optional speech support.
- Consider providing employees with larger or multiple monitors to maximize their screen space and enhance their ability to magnify content.
- Empower your employees who are blind with complete screen reading software.
- Provide training to your IT staff, so they can troubleshoot technical and user education issues.
- Consider offering digital, dynamic Braille displays. These innovative devices provide real-time Braille output for employees who are proficient in Braille. With the ability to refresh, these displays allow employees to multitask, enabling them to listen to verbal cues while simultaneously reading content on their computer screens.
- Create Braille labels for areas such as elevator buttons and restroom signs.
- Create braille versions of company documentation, or encourage staff to share electronic braille files.
Beyond digital and informational accessibility, it's essential to consider physical accessibility within your workplace.
- Ensure clear pathways in the office space, to assist employees with visual impairments.
- Install tactile markers or Braille signage for key areas, such as restrooms and exits.
- Offer ergonomic office furniture to accommodate different needs.
- Make sure employees have adequate lighting and adjustable monitor settings.
- Encourage communication and feedback, to ensure you're doing your best for each employee. Remember, each person's experience of a disability is unique, and one size does not fit all!
- Establishing open communication channels and seek feedback from employees with disabilities. This is integral to continuous improvement.
Create a Culture of Inclusion
Two-way communication with all your staff, regardless of ability or disability, is key to creating a culture that is inclusive. Listen more and use feedback and ideas to create a culture that everyone is proud to be a part of.
- Conduct regular one-on-one check-ins with employees to discuss their needs and experiences.
- Encourage an open-door policy to address concerns or suggestions.
- Encourage consideration for all abilities during team-building exercises and activities.
- Provide a confidential mechanism for employees to offer feedback or report accessibility issues without fear of reprisal.
Creating an inclusive workplace for employees with visual impairments is not just about compliance; it's about creating a supportive and diverse environment that benefits all employees.
When you implement accessible information practices, provide assistive technology, foster inclusive meetings and presentations, provide ongoing training and awareness, offer flexible work arrangements, ensure physical accessibility, and maintain open communication channels, you build a workplace where every employee can thrive.
Inclusivity is a win-win. It not only benefits employees with disabilities but also contributes to a more innovative, productive, and dynamic workforce. Embrace inclusivity and encourage consideration for a more diverse way of thinking, and your workplace will undoubtedly reap the rewards of a diverse and equitable environment.
Dolphin helps you provide accessibility tools in the workplace
By implementing SuperNova Enterprise, your workplace can be transformed into an inclusive environment that truly caters to the needs of employees with print disabilities.
If you're in a business sector that relies on self-service kiosks, we can help you with that too. Dolphin Kiosks enables you to meet compliance guidelines and improve the user experience for your external customers with disabilities. It's a win for your brand and your customers.
Discover more about these innovative solutions at yourdolphin.com