Back in March, most of us thought that we would be back to “normal life” by May or June. Unfortunately, though, it looks like coronavirus is around to stay. Some people are beginning to head back to offices now. While social distancing and adhering to new rules in the office may be simple for many, Blind individuals are currently undergoing an entirely separate set of challenges. Below are a few ways you can help your Blind employees succeed and feel more comfortable as they transition back to the workplace.
Be Prepared to Assist More
People who are visually impaired often rely on touch to find the things that they need and get around. Right now, people are less likely to want to touch objects and people. Most Blind people are comfortable asking for help, but you may want to let them know up front that you are available and willing to help should they need anything.
An open and honest discussion about the kind of assistance they will need with things like finding office supplies or even getting a cup of coffee in the morning can make their experience more pleasant. One important thing to note is that you should not make assumptions about what the person needs.
The conversation allows you to find out their preferences without inadvertently taking on an ableist attitude.
Allow Work from Home Policies Where Applicable
People who are completely blind often rely on guides for assistance. In the attempt to protect their health, many guides are currently uncomfortable touching others and being too close to them. Physical distancing is nearly impossible as a guide, making it a potentially dangerous job.
Without these guides, blind individuals are spending more time at home and finding it more difficult to get out of the house for work and extracurriculars. Allowing them to work from home without fear of losing their job can ease their fears and give them the freedom they need to work well.
In cases where it is not possible to offer the ability to work from home, consider finding a way to help your employees get to work. Offer a stipend for ride shares or work with your employee to look into government programs that can help.
Provide Accessibility Equipment
Providing reasonable accommodations for your blind employees is not only a good practice, it is the law. When you hire blind or visually impaired individuals, you need to ensure that you are providing them with the technology that they need to do their jobs.
For people working from home right now, this might mean providing the screen reading technology that they would ordinarily have at work. It might also include being willing to provide information in a variety of mediums. If you usually just send an memos via email, consider recording the information and sending the recording as well.
This can make getting pertinent information more convenient for your blind and visually impaired employees.
The best thing that you can do to accommodate people on your team with diversabilities is to talk to them. Find out what will make their jobs easier and how you can assist with that. If you have questions about providing accessibility for blind or visually impaired individuals on your team, give us a call at 410.571.4016 or contact us on the website.