Accessible facilities play an essential role in creating a safe and inclusive workplace.
In the United Kingdom, all employers are legally obligated to provide accessible facilities for their employees with disabilities and special needs.
This article will cover three aspects of accessible offices:
All these accessibility requirements are what businesses must abide by in order to be compliant with UK law. These requirements fall under the Equality Act 2010, employers need to be inclusive and not discriminate against anyone in their employment. You need to ensure that your accessibility options relate to your employee’s physical impairment and take reasonable adjustments in their working environment.
In order to provide an accessible workplace, businesses must include ramps and elevators that are wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs. If an elevator is not possible in the building employers must provide alternative arrangements. This problem can be tackled in two ways:
- Work from home arrangements
- Ground floor office arrangements
Appropriate parking spots for disabled employees who require special spaces close to their work area are also required if the employee is office based. All entrances and exits should be well-lit and clearly marked with signage indicating the location of accessible facilities.
Also, ensure that your disabled employees can access facilities that are not legally required, like a break room. It could be considered discrimination as your less physically able employees can access all the facilities on offer to other employees.
Overall, you simply need to think of how best to physically accommodate any disabled or special needs worker to easily work for your business. You need to avoid any form of discrimination in your workplace, otherwise, you could be taken to court to defend your actions.
Adequate signage is a must for employers to ensure the safety and comfort of visually impaired employees. Signs should be designed in different shapes, sizes, and colours to make them easier to identify.
Audio announcements are another way of improving communication accessibility for hearing-impaired employees. Such announcements can be made in public spaces, elevators and on public transportation.
Again, you only need to provide these communication adjustments if your employees require them. You could be liable if you are aware of any communication issues, especially relating to health and safety if an employee needs additional support.
Accessible Technology and Equipment
Adaptive workstations are designed to meet the needs of disabled employees. This includes adjustable desks and chairs as well as keyboards that provide tactile feedback. The standard office desk is unlikely to be suitable for someone in a wheelchair. Similarly, someone with a back injury may require additional support with an ergonomic chair. These are also requirements if an employee is working from home.
Computer accessibility software such as screen readers and voice recognition software should also be provided to ensure the smooth functioning of computers and other equipment. You may consider installing such software in other employees’ equipment if you feel it could help with productivity.
Businesses in the United Kingdom are expected to take all necessary steps to provide accessible facilities for their employees with disabilities and special needs. This includes physical, communication and technological accessibility measures that can significantly improve the safety, comfort and wellbeing of disabled employees in the workplace.