3 Essential Accessibility Features in the Modern Workplace | Disabled Person

The above picture is in an office with a woman in a wheelchair sitting at a desk working on her laptop screen with another worker who is male.

3 Essential Accessibility Features in the Modern Workplace

In the United States, one in four adults lives with a disability. Some disabilities are visible to the naked eye, while others are difficult to detect on the surface.

Regardless of the circumstances, all workplaces should strive to adopt accessibility features that create the best possible work environment for all of their employees.

As the workplace continues to evolve, there are a variety of new strategies to help attract and retain employees from this talent pool of 61 million people.

From providing flexible work arrangements to improving the employee experience, these forward-thinking approaches help you ensure that you're offering your employees everything they need (and more) to thrive.

Here are three simple workplace accessibility features to add to your human resources arsenal. 

Flexible work arrangements

Flexibility is an essential feature of the modern workplace, with 44% of surveyed workers stating that they work from home to accommodate a disability.

There has also been a big push from trade unions to ensure people with disabilities can work from home if they need to, with 67% of people believing that unions can help protect their employees' rights and get fair treatment.

Not only should you provide the option for your employees with disabilities to work from home, but you should also provide them with the necessary equipment to help get their job done and make them feel like valued team members.

Encourage your employees to pick out the equipment that best suits their needs. For example, a visually impaired employee may want a larger computer monitor or a laptop for working at home. Or an employee who uses a wheelchair might ask for a height-adjustable desk and keyboard tray.

Providing flexible work arrangements is no longer a nice thing to have. It's a critical accessibility feature that'll help your employees with disabilities feel more comfortable and succeed at their jobs.

Digital accessibility tools

In an increasingly digital world, your company website and other online tools must be accessible to people with disabilities.

For instance, applicants and employees with disabilities should easily be able to apply for jobs, access payroll, and benefits information, and obtain other critical information through your company website.

If your website isn't accessible to people with disabilities, you could be losing out on potential job candidates and new customers and exposing yourself to legal risk.

Thankfully, assistive technologies help ensure that your website is accessible to those who are blind, colorblind, deaf, hard of hearing or have cognitive disabilities.

Here are some other ways you can make your online presence more accessible to employees with disabilities:

  • Use an online photo editor to create high-quality visual aids for employees that have difficulty reading text.

  • Make sure your website works with screen readers and other assistive technologies by using rewording tools to write descriptive alt-text for images and avoid complex navigation headers.

  • Invest in software that prioritizes accessibility features, like a social media management tool for your marketing team or bookkeeping software for your accounting team.

Wellness programs

Stress and burnout are significant threats to the modern workplace.

Most people spend more time at their jobs than with their family, friends, and loved ones. And while we all know how important it is to take care of ourselves outside of the office, it's also essential to take care of ourselves inside the office — especially regarding our mental health.

Consider investing in an employee wellness program to help lower employee stress levels and become a mental health advocate.

An employee wellness program is a comprehensive approach to wellness that includes all aspects of a person's life — physical, mental, emotional, and social. The goal is to create an environment where employees feel supported, healthy and happy at work.

Let's look at a few examples of employee wellness programs that help reduce stress and improve overall happiness in the workplace.

You can hire a health coach to meet with employees monthly to discuss their physical and mental well-being. The health coach can provide tips and tricks about diet, exercise habits, stress management, and sleep quality.

They can also encourage employees that need additional help with mental health to meet with a psychiatrist. A psychiatrist can formulate an appropriate treatment plan, like prescribing an online depression medication or encouraging participation in weekly therapy with a psychologist.

Turning a conference room in your office into a meditation room is another simple way to implement an employee wellness program without breaking the bank. Encourage your employees to practice mindfulness meditation for ten minutes each day to clear their minds and reduce stress levels.

Your employees are your greatest assets. It's a no-brainer to invest in the health and wellness of your employees. Prioritizing your employees' mental health won't only improve their well-being, but your bottom line will also benefit.

Wrapping up

By incorporating these three workplace accessibility features and making them available to everyone in your organization, you're creating an even playing field where employees can thrive.

Don't underestimate the power of an inclusive workforce. By making these changes now, you can expect a smooth transition into a more accessible future as a leader in workplace equality.  

Kelly Moser is the co-founder and editor at Home & Jet, a digital magazine for the modern era. She's also an expert in freelance writing and content marketing for SaaS, Fintech, and ecommerce startups.