Making changes in the workplace to support employees with disabilities is important for any employer. But it comes with a specific set of challenges and requires creative and critical thinking, as well as future planning.
One of the most important things to think about is whether specialised support technology will be used by one individual or if it will serve a purpose for future employees as well. This is because making the necessary changes to business practices can cost time, money, and manpower, so it’s imperative to map out a plan before implementing anything.
Once you have formulated an understanding of the worker’s requirements (which may include a service dog), it is a good idea to think about the different types of modifications that can be made. These are often similar to changes that can be made to a home for a disabled person. Some will be technical, while others will simply require a more creative approach.
Here are a number of suggested changes that you can make in the workplace which will help visually impaired employees to overcome work-related disadvantages.
These can be especially helpful in call centres or businesses that require an employee to be on a phone/computer all day. They include:
- Synthetic speech output, which translates text to speech
- Screen-magnification programs that change font size, enlarge icons and mouse pointer, and change screen colours
- Closed-circuit television to enlarge printed documents
- Braille systems that transcribe information from the computer screen into Braille text
- Portable notetakers: hand-held devices that electronically receive, store, and retrieve data and are equipped with speech and/or refreshable Braille display output
These technologies can be expensive and will require specialised installation, but they will allow you to fully support employees with visual impairments.
As discussed earlier, the options noted above will require careful planning. So, in the meantime, here are other helpful recommendations that will help you to support your blind employees.
- Focus on lighting types and where the light source is situated
- Use electronic text and voicemail technologies for company communications
- Use large print or Braille
- Provide an assistant who can help the employee with tasks and any reading that cannot be transcribed into Braille
It’s also important to remember that employees with disabilities may need other considerations, such as a set schedule so they are able to carpool or take public transport.
Understanding these needs and making small efforts to accommodate them will go a long way in making sure your employees feel valued, whilst also lowering your company’s turnover rate.
With thanks to Eric Johnson a Guest writer for Call Centre Helper