Year-round, we aim to honor the contributions of folks with disabilities. Especially since October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. Business Impact NW would like to not only amplify the accomplishments of folks with disabilities at our workplaces but share a few resources to amplify the work as well. It is the resilience of the community of disabled people that has kept our institutions strong. Moreover, by making workplaces more accessible, we can represent what society truly looks like. This can serve as an invitation for all to participate in our missions and work.
5 Simple Ways to Make Offices More Accessible
Here are five simple ways to make offices more accessible. Know that there are more, but this could be a good place to start:
Remove physical barriers
- Push chairs under desks to make walkways and rooms unobstructed.
- Make sure access to the toilet and sink in the bathroom isn’t obstructed by storage boxes, supplies, or other objects.
- If your break room or lunch room are not accessible to everyone, consider swapping its location with an office or other area.
- If you own your parking lot, provide at least one designated parking space close to the building entry by adding an ADA parking sign.
Offer assistive technology
- Including, but not limited to, devices for speech recognition, Braille keyboards, screen reader software, and sign language apps.
- This doesn’t mean you have to have a lot of expensive things on-hand “just in case” – it means you can offer it to employees, and if needed, work with them to provide the best option.
Provide adjustable equipment
- Like height-adjustable desks, chairs, computer stands.
- Same as assistive tech – offer the option and if needed, work to provide it.
Ensure flexible work hours & remote work time
- Flex & Remote work has been honed into real policies over the last few years that are less “scary” for an employee to test out and enforce. It’s not “work whenever you feel like it” or “just pretend to work by checking your email” – it’s a real, time-tested way of offering flexibility that can actually result in increased productivity when written, shared, and enforced throughout the workplace.
- Why? Because you’re honoring that everyone is human, and need to be able to do things like go to the doctor, deal with a flat tire, take a little extra time in the bathroom, or clean up a toddler food fight. In terms of accessibility, you’re allowing for flexibility in personal tasks, less time spent commuting, and other needs that may only be available during work hours.
- While this works best for salaried, office-based employees, the basics can sometimes be adapted for other types of workplaces.
- Ask staff members what they need.
- Familiarize yourself with reasonable accommodations (designated by the Americans for Disabilities Act).
Read this article for more ways to make your workplace accessible and inclusive for those who are disabled.
Research through the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) website to dive deeper into accessibility in the workplace.
Learn more about the history of National Disability Employment Awareness Month through the Library of Congress here.
Attend: To learn tools and resources for serving entrepreneurs with disabilities, (which can inform providers AND all business owners) join WSMA webinar on October 21st by clicking HERE: https://us19.campaign-archive.com/?e=__test_email__&u=65f8ff21148fda33df516fed6&id=e44d39f7ba
About the author
Alyssa Pizarro is the Strategic Partner & Diversity Officer at Business Impact NW. Alyssa is responsible for the organization’s relationships and diversity focus. Before this, Alyssa served as the Corporate Giving Officer at Business Impact NW for a year and a half. Alyssa’s previous nonprofit experience was in the Development Department at Yoga Behind Bars, from career beginnings as a 10-year fashion sales manager and director in New York before moving to Seattle in 2013. Alyssa has combined her passion for social justice and community engagement with her corporate experience to culminate in her current role at Business Impact NW. She completed one year of her MBA at Northeastern University and has a Bachelor’s degree from the State University of New York at Albany, with a double major in Anthropology & Women’s Studies. Alyssa is also a yoga instructor, a pup-mom, a forever-learner, and a fair-weather jogger.