Design for Disability: A Guide for Buying Accessible Home Office Furniture
The above picture is a man sitting at a desk with a laptop in an ergonomic chair.
Design for Disability: Buying Accessible Home Office Furniture
More and more people are working from home, and many of those workers will remain that way for the foreseeable future.
Around 40% of workers are working from home in 2020. Working from home is also sometimes considered a reasonable accommodation for an employee with disabilities as long as the job can be done from a distance.
If you're new to the work-from-home lifestyle, you may need to make some adjustments to your home office. You have the opportunity to design for disability.
But how can you make a space that works for you? Keep reading for a few tips on making a disability-friendly workspace at home.
Find the Right Desk
There are so many options for office desks that it can be hard to choose the one that's right for you. At work, you didn't have a choice. At home, you have endless options.
If you're in a wheelchair, you're going to be looking for a desk that suits your wheelchair height. It needs to be wide and tall enough for you to get close but not so tall that working is uncomfortable. Typing from a bad position can be hard on your wrists.
If you're someone who deals with a non-mobility-related condition, you may benefit from a standing desk (or one that has a standing option). This might help you keep your focus and avoid any back or neck pain from a standard desk.
Comfort Is Key
If you need to find an office chair, don't just settle for a folding chair or one of the hard chairs from your dining room. You want to keep comfortable when you have a long day at work.
A good office chair offers back and neck support. They can lean backward or forward to give you a comfortable position, and they usually have height adjustments.
It's worthwhile to put the extra money into your office chair. You're going to be spending a lot of time there, and you don't need to limit yourself to the stiff chairs at the workplace. Treat yourself!
The Importance of Lighting
When you're making your home office consider using a natural light source, not only will this give you some valuable vitamin D, but it's less harsh on the eyes. Putting your desk right next to a big window is going to give you enough light to work by (at least for part of the day) and save you some money on electricity.
If you're vision impaired, you may want to keep desk lamps nearby. Having a light source that's close to your paperwork is going to help to put less strain on your eyes.
Clear Space For a Smooth Workflow
Make sure to leave yourself room to get around your new workspace. Everything that you're keeping in the office should be compact enough that you're able to move comfortably around.
A desk should have enough space behind it to push yourself back and turn around to either leave or do other work tasks.
Keep Things Within Reach
If you have a mobility-related disability or even a disability that impacts your concentration, keeping everything within reach and in clear sight can make your life a lot easier.
Make sure that everything that you need is at an appropriate height to reach when you need it. Desks should have drawers that aren't too high or too low. Any shelves should be in your line of vision and easy to pull things from.
Consider using cabinets that don't have doors. This will save you any struggle that cabinet doors can offer (some of them really stick!) and give you more room for any items that stick out beyond the doorway.
When the things you need are available at arms' reach, it's going to be easier to stay on your workflow without distractions. It would be best if you never had to leave the room to grab something elsewhere or look around for a missing paper or pen.
This will keep you focused and attentive on your work while also avoiding unnecessary strain on your body.
Get Bonus Accommodations
Are there any things that you know would make your life easier, but your employer could not provide them? Maybe you don't know what you need, but your job has been too tough to complete as-is.
Give yourself extra accommodations. You're the master of the office now, so why not make the best possible work conditions?
You can get yourself a keyboard with extra-large keys to make them easier to see and easier to use for anyone with vision or movement impairments. You can also get keyboards with letters and numbers either sunken in or pushing out on the keys. This is great for people who want to type faster but have a hard time navigating the keyboard.
Speech-to-text software is readily available online, and it can be a huge improvement to your workflow.
You can include things like embossed labels for anything that you use frequently. At some point, your new workflow will be engrained in your memory. At first, though, you might need the reassurance of a handy and vision-friendly set of labels to get where you need to go.
It's Your Office! Time to Design for Disability
You don't need to restrict yourself to the rules of the workplace anymore. When you're making your own home office setup you get to design for disability and keep your space accessible based on your needs.
Everyone will be different, but you get to customize your space based on your own strengths and limitations. Take advantage of it!
For more posts about working with a disability, or to find a work from home job that suits you, visit our site! We want to match you with a job you'll love.