Changes to the design of your workplace space or job duties may be required to give the disabled a chance to apply for a vacancy, meet the job essentials, and have an equal opportunity to enjoy the same perks as those employees who have no disability. How to build an add-on to your workplace with disabled people in mind?
How to build an add-on to your workplace with disabled people in mind?
- modify air conditioning to keep add-on space cool, sizing an air conditioner correctly
- space plan that a wheelchair can easily move in
- purchasing suitable desks and/or chairs
- installing ramps to enhance accessibility
- wider door openings
- bathroom updates
- lower light switches
- lower door knobs
Remember that adding to or adjusting your accommodations is only necessary if you intend to hire or employ disabled worker(s).
Modifying Your Workplace
The manner in which you modify your workplace largely depends on the type of employees’ disability. However, you can visit the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) for more elaborate information on how best you can adjust your workplace to suit the demands of disabled employees.
Once you are on the site, you can gain more insight and advice on the most effective way to manage each single disability.
In general, here are a few tips on how you can modify your accommodation to suit the disabled persons:
- Space – Your room or office should be sufficient to allow free movement and turning of wheelchairs. Another important feature is climate control. It should be adjusted accordingly to make the workplace a suitable environment.
In case the room addition has no connection to the air conditioning system of the main building, consider installing a portable A/C unit.
- Ramps – If your disabled employees use crutches or wheelchair, install ramps instead of stairs in your workplace for easier navigation. If you decide to settle on other alternatives, make sure that they have limited or slow mobility.
- Customized Phones – Use phones that are customized to fit individual needs and not the one-size-fits-all-phones. Look for those phones that are integrated with custom features such as:
- Large Button and caption capabilities
- Headphone inputs
- Automatic dialing
- Voice-activated speaker phones
- Adjustable Tables And Desks – Avoid using non-adjustable workstations for they can deny employees with wheelchairs the flexibility and comfort needed at the workplace.
- Organized Equipment, Shelving, And Filling Systems – These items should be located in easy-to-access areas, and at an appropriate height to allow disabled employees reach them easily.
Additionally, shelves should be designed in a way that allows vision-impaired employees to retrieve office supplies without straining.
- Personalized Computer Systems – Make use of disabled-friendly computer systems such as Braille display devices that are capable of reading the monitor and presenting the text in Braille to users or to readers who then read out loud the text if you employees are blind and vision impaired.
Also, utilize screen and keyboards that allow greater placement flexibility so as to make those employees who are mobile impaired feel comfortable at the workplace.
Other equipment that can make your workplace more suitable for the disabled include mouth sticks, alternative keyboards or trackballs.
- Cognitive Aids – Utilize diagrams and pictures rather than words to help employees with a learning disability. You can also make use of checklists to guide employees during the learning process.
Make use of templates and forms to enhance easy understanding and integration of information. In addition to the above, have clear records of all meetings and training held in order to enable the learners to recall information. Also, include easy-to-follow instructions.
- Neat And Clutter-Free Common Areas – Who doesn’t like to work in an organized, clean area? Well, a clutter-free working environment is suitable for all but very crucial for the disabled, in particular for those with mobile and visual impairment.
Make sure the rooms and offices are free from anything that can cause accidents. For instance, a box of paper may not be considered a possible threat to employees without a disability but is downright dangerous to blind employees.