Creating a work environment that values accessibility for all employees is more important than ever. We are working towards a world where everyone is able to participate in the workplace and have equal access to information and resources. If becoming a leader in accessibility is a goal for your organization, the tips below can help you get started.
Start with the Basics
When people consider making a workspace accessible, they often jump to integrating sophisticated technology and making sweeping changes. While those measures are sometimes part of an initiative, they are not where most organizations need to start. Building from a solid foundation is one of the best ways to become a leader in accessibility.
Your organization can begin an accessibility initiative by doing the following:
- Asking questions – What does the staff need? How do they feel about the current state of accessibility?
- Making the space physically accessible – Is it possible to easily navigate between aisles while walking? What about in a wheelchair or on crutches? Are office materials easy to access?
- Creating diversability (diverse ability) friendly shared spaces – Do you have handicapped parking spaces? Are all the rooms, including conference rooms and bathrooms, physically accessible and comfortable for employees?
By starting with making your office physically accessible, you are making the workspace immediately easier for everyone to work in.
Host Accessibility Trainings
When you begin implementing accessibility measures, it is important for leadership to buy-in first. However, just training leadership is not enough. You need to offer accessibility training to everyone on your team. Knowledge and understanding of accommodations for people with diversabilities can help foster a sense of inclusion and empathy among employees.
However, your accessibility training should go beyond simply discussing diversity and inclusion. You want all employees to understand how to make the office a more welcoming place for people with diversabilities.
Host trainings that show the kind of software that deaf or hard of hearing people use to access documents, demonstrate how a screen reader works for blind employees, or challenge employees to find holes in your company’s accessibility options and come up with solutions to fill them.
Whatever you do, try to make accessibility training enlightening, interesting, and informational.
Align Internal and External Accessibility Offerings
Aligning your messaging and offerings is important for a variety of reasons. First, it gives your organization authenticity, which is important for most customers and clients. Second, it helps you retain employees. When they know what to expect and know that they can trust you, they are more likely to stay on board.
You can align your messaging by creating a website that is accessible for people with diversabilities. Not only will this be useful for anyone visiting your website, but it can also have a positive impact on usability for all web visitors. The more streamlined and accessible the design is, the better your site will do.
Putting an emphasis on accessibility and usability for customers, clients, employees, and even vendors can help your company become a leader in accessibility.
Are you ready to get started but not sure how to drive an accessibility initiative? Applied Development can help. We have experience supporting the U.S. Federal Government in addition to other private and commercial entities. Give us a call today at 410.571.4016 or contact us on the website for more information.