Although there has been some improvement recently, most people with disabilities still struggle with landing jobs. Employers believe adapting to the workplace and communicating effectively would be too challenging for them. That is why the managers are usually very reluctant in hiring the disabled ones. However, their mobility may be limited, but their voice is boundless. Through accessible communications, people with disabilities can actively participate in work-related activities.
Needless to say, good communication and unlimited access are crucial elements in any business. Overcoming obstacles in communication and information sharing is important for people with special needs. Any barrier standing in their way can affect their sense of independence and control. For this reason, employers can resort to the intranet or any other equally effective business solution. It’s not only practical for employee communication but also for their engagement and collaboration.
What Employers Can Do To Ensure Accessible Communication?
First of all, during the hiring and selection process, employers should use various techniques for interviewing candidates. By providing different methods, they are able to cater to the accessibility needs of people with disabilities. For instance, if the candidate has a hearing impairment, they should be interviewed by phone or in written form.
Similarly, employers should inform themselves about the specific needs of their employees. Once they are familiar with their particular needs, employers can figure out the best way for meeting those needs. Assistive technology tools are particularly useful in this situation. Assistive tools and devices give people with disabilities easier access to computers, smartphones, and the Internet.
The next step would be to check whether the selected operating system in the office is equipped with these tools. Also, the employees have to be aware of their use and features. However, if there is a problem regarding accessibility, employers should ask the employees for help. They know which devices work best for them and it is a great opportunity for employee engagement. Simply providing assistive technology tools and devices might be fundamental but it’s not enough. They have to be regularly maintained and updated or else they serve no purpose.
Flexibility is another aspect that needs to be addressed. Now more than ever, the importance and necessity of remote work has been brought to light. Many believe flexible working hours are reserved only for working parents and those interested in having a good work-life balance. Nevertheless, people with disabilities prefer this mode as it puts their abilities into focus instead of their disability. Despite working remotely, the employees can still effectively communicate with managers and coworkers. Many platforms for video conferences, such as Zoom, allow inserting captions so those with hearing impairment can also participate in meetings.
While social media primarily serves as a communication channel, it can also be used as a powerful marketing strategy. Over the past year, social networks have significantly improved their features. Facebook introduced Help Desk for greater accessibility while Youtube offers captioning. Thanks to new options, people with disabilities no longer have a problem with accessing and enjoying these platforms to the fullest. Social media may have started as a great tool for advocating, but it quickly outgrew that concept. Many businesses use these platforms for reaching out to target groups and communicating with customers. With accessibility features, people with disabilities can now directly engage in promotional activities and even generate passive income.
All organizations require drafting, sending, sharing, and archiving a large number of documents every day. The employers can adjust those activities so they are accessible to all employees, even those with disabilities. While most employers rely on assistive technology, they can also make use of additional formats and other accommodations. Some of the most popular options are the following ones:
· Braille — people with vision disabilities will find printed materials in Braille very useful. It is particularly suitable for complex information, reference materials up to 10 pages, and documents that are frequently referred to. On the other hand, materials in Braille can be heavy and lengthy. Also, only a small percent of blind can read Braille.
· Large print — writing documents in large print and simple formatting is the easiest accommodation. It enables access to materials to many people with low vision. Meanwhile, extensive documents might cause provoke eye strain.
· Electronic formats — the employees can use many online tools, such as speech output, Braille display, or TTY for electronic communication. PDF or HTML files allow greater access and easy storage. The users have to rely on the computer, Internet, and assistive devices. Some of these programs demand to point and click so a certain degree of mobility is needed.
· Voice messaging —voice messages are one of the more popular formats. Communicating and accessing is easy and fast. Conveying illustrations, tables, and larger documents can be rather difficult.
All in all, the recent improvements in the employment of people with disabilities are a step in the right direction. Hopefully, this trend will be further reinforced in the future. With appropriate support and certain adjustments regarding assistive technology devices, people with disabilities can finally prove their worth. Future employers can use accessible communication to banish barriers and support people with disabilities by offering employment opportunities.
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