Did you know that Americans spend an average of five hours per week sitting in meetings? In fact, nearly 11 million meetings happen in the U.S. every single day. While most of those meetings are happening virtually right now, many people will eventually be going back to working in office settings.
Creating conference rooms that are comfortable and accessible for people with a variety of diversabilities (diverse abilities) can help your organization meet ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliance and provide a welcoming atmosphere for all employees. We have a few tips to help you get started.
Ask Your Employees What They Need in an Accessible Conference Room
While this may seem obvious at first, it is not the first route that many organizations go to when considering implementing more accessible conditions for people with diverseabilities. However, you can get the best and most comprehensive information by simply asking.
Create a survey that goes out to all employees asking them what they think the biggest obstacles are with the meeting spaces. The answers may surprise you – but more importantly, they will give you an idea of what you can start doing to improve them.
When you send out the survey, make sure that you ask specific questions but also leave some room for open-ended answers. Having both will ensure that more people feel comfortable answering. Just make sure to clarify that you are talking specifically about accessibility and not “wishes” such as free snacks, drinks, etc.
Consider the Top Diversabilties
In an office setting, the top three diversabilties that you are likely to see are mobility issues, vision impairment, and Deaf or Hard of Hearing. Many solutions for creating a better conference room space for people with these diversabilties are cost-effective and easy to implement.
- Mobility – You should be able to easily navigate through a conference room with a wheelchair or crutches. If you cannot, consider moving things around or even purchasing a smaller conference table. You should also leave a space open at the table for people who use wheelchairs and reserve space near the front for anyone who has mobility challenges.
- Vision – Many conference rooms utilize computers and large screens for presentations now. While these are great tools, it is important to make sure that you are taking proper advantage of them. Zoom in so that it is easy to see the presentation from anywhere in the room. Test out all seats and consider buying an additional screen to make it easier for everyone to see if you notice any issues.
- Deaf or Hard of Hearing – There are a few things you can do for Deaf or Hard of Hearing people on your team. Since not everyone in this community knows American Sign Language (ASL), communication access real-time transcription (CART) provides immediate translation during meetings. If you know for a fact that a Deaf or Hard of Hearing team member does understand ASL, bringing in an interpreter is a great way to bridge the communication gap.
Consult the Experts
If your conference room is not accessible for people with diversabilities, Applied Development can help. We have extensive experience working with both private and government entities, providing them with solutions that work for individuals of diverse backgrounds.