Accessibility is the practice of altering the work environment to make sure that it is as optimal and useful as possible for people with disabilities. It is more than about removing barriers that prevent people with disabilities from working. Accessibility is equipping the workplace with the right tools to set everyone up for success, with or without disabilities.
Since the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) passage in 1990, employers must provide reasonable and adequate accommodations for people with disabilities. Also, they must not discriminate against anybody based on the individual’s disability. From the candidate selection process to employment, businesses need to make the work environment accessible to all, including people with disabilities.
What is the role of HR in accessibility?
HR professionals have an important role in upholding accessibility in the workplace. They make sure that the skills and talents of job seekers and employees are highlighted and optimized. HR should determine their organization’s readiness in accommodating people with disabilities. They must be knowledgeable of the requirements and methods by which to recruit, interview, and employ people with disabilities. Moreover, HR should also work with managers, supervisors, and other leaders in maintaining accessibility.
Will employers be liable for accessibility?
Employers who fail to comply with accessibility standards can face fines according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
What are examples of accessibility measures?
It is a common misconception to think that accessibility is merely installing ramps. While making structural changes to the physical business space is helpful, there are other examples of accessibility measures.
Location accessibility: the workplace environment needs to be adapted to accommodate the needs of those with disabilities. Some examples are: making sure that doorways are wide enough for wheelchairs, canes, and other mobility devices; doors are easy to open; access ramps are appropriate with handrails; and that there are no abrupt level changes on the path from parking areas to building entrances.
Technological accessibility: accessibility extends to websites and other software that the company uses. This includes career pages, applications, and portals. Employers must make sure that people with disabilities can browse, use, and navigate, and perceive the content of websites. Voice readers and other assistive technology may be needed.
Equipment accessibility: employers should provide people with disabilities with the tools they need to complete their day-to-day tasks. For example, a person with visual challenges may need a bigger screen monitor.
Why is accessibility important?
Accessibility not only benefits people with disabilities. By giving all employees the tools they need in an accessible work environment, they feel valued and empowered. In any organization, empowered employees will contribute to the company and ensure its success.
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