Disability Inclusion in the Workplace:
How Businesses Make Accommodations for Customers and Employees Who Have a Disability
There is so much buzz about Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in the workplace, but what about disabled persons and their accessibility (or DEIA)? The goal of putting DEIA initiatives into place is to value all individuals in a company, giving them the opportunity to show their strengths, but also ensuring they are given the tools they need to succeed.
Human Resource experts know all too well that few organizations put in the proper plan of action for hiring people with disabilities. Employers should verify their company handbook is updated to include policies and best practices for employees with disabilities to be given the capabilities needed to fully participate at work. And with the increase of employees working remotely, companies should focus on disability inclusivity to drive motivation and retention.
The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) safeguards the rights of employees with a disability by enforcing businesses to comply, offering reasonable accommodations to allow that employee to work for a job they are qualified to do. But what exactly are considered reasonable accommodations and how can businesses welcome, and best practice these parameters?
“In practice the ADA requires companies to consider accommodating an applicant or an employee who has a need that may be out of the norm from others,” Lytana clarifies. She explains some reasonable accommodations “for example, maybe you have an employee who has a back problem and an ergonomic chair may provide the support they need, or a hearing impaired applicant who may need an interpreter to assist with their interview, or technology added to their computer that allows them to receive information differently rather than audio.”
These alterations are nominal in costs, not causing a business an undue financial hardship. Choosing which modifications are practical for each employer is crucial, as a this is a key approach to creating a long-lasting culture of acceptance. Developing an inclusive work force is critical to represent the customers a company serves. Furthermore, it allows for more creative and innovative thinking for career growth.
Lytana shares that “as an HR leader I believe setting the right tone and culture is instrumental in the creation of the company being acceptive of differences, once this happens it’s not a special program that people have to follow, it’s a culture.” A key piece to this is training both for managers and HR professionals. “Both groups must know and understand the law, be realistic in their approach to accommodations and be willing to think outside the box. Another very important best practice is an “accessibility” employee resource group. This group not only has to be supportive of each other but should have an executive sponsor who learns what they, as employees, may need to then provide that support for the growth of the business. This is a win-win for both the company and the employees.”
As you now understand, Human Resources plays a major role in how workplace disability inclusion is adapting positive changes for organizations. The priority in the workspace should be validating all employees feel welcomed, appreciated, comfortable, and valued for their differences in a supportive work environment.
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