When most of us think of a disabled person, we might think of someone who’s wheelchair-bound, or has to travel everywhere on crutches, or who’s blind or deaf. While all of these categories would certainly qualify, it’s a fact that not every disability is so easy to spot. Moreover, many of the individuals who suffer from the subtler, more hidden forms of disability will strive to conceal their condition, for fear of being treated differently.
For this reason, it’s worth employers being pro-active. Don’t wait for a new recruit to force your hand: make the changes to the workplace before they arrive. It’s entirely possible that many of your existing staff will benefit from them. What’s more, you’ll have an easier time attracting disabled workers in the first place.
Think about your Car Park
The car park can be a point of contention for disabled workers, especially if your building is in a conservation area where access is difficult. Make reasonable adjustments to make it easy for disabled workers to get from the disabled spaces to their place of work. Ramps are cheap and effective, and parking bays can be easily adjusted to give wheelchair users space. You might even go as far as to provide mobility vehicles as a perk.
Create an Inclusive Work Environment
If your workplace is going to be easy for a disabled employee to operate in, then the rest of your workforce will need to be on board. Put in place strict rules on discriminatory behaviour, and enforce them. Zero-tolerance should really mean zero-tolerance when it comes to certain behaviours.
Provide a Confidential Means of Raising Issues
You can’t expect to get everything right when you’re implementing changes. It might be that there’s an easy opportunity to make life easier for your disabled employees, and that you simply haven’t seen it. By providing your employees the chance to submit feedback anonymously, you’ll be able to make yourself aware without putting anyone on the spot. This practice has benefits that go well beyond inclusivity.
Providing support to disabled workers isn’t just a matter of goodwill and hard work. It also requires certain kinds of knowledge and skill. Providing training to a few workers can help to make your workplace vastly more accommodating. You might even bring a professional outsider in to audit your practices, and to provide a form of mentorship.