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Workplace Accessibility for the Visually Impaired

25 Mar 2019

Workplace Accessibility for the Visually Impaired



The total number of visually impaired workers is constantly growing year after year. In order to take advantage of this new niche group of employees, employers have begun adopting new policies and implementing new environmental modifications to accommodate their needs. However, these accommodations have not just begun. In 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed and became law.

The ADA is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life; including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public. In addition, the ADA requires all employers with 15+ employees to provide employees with disabilities reasonable accommodations in order to perform their specific job functions. This is only required however, as long as the accommodation does not place an undue burden on the employer. This Act (ADA), gave hope to the future we now live in where people with visual disabilities are hungry for work and flourishing more than ever! This article will discuss the top ideas and new technology employers are using to make accessible accommodations in the environment and policies of the workplace.

Improving Accessibility around the Worksite

Whether its an office or factory, employers are applying new tactics to help employees with visual impairments find their way around the workplace. Effectively allowing them to focus on their daily duties and not have to worry about maneuvering around or locating necessary tools and items.  Primarily, it is simple and inexpensive modifications that can be made such as contrasting colors along the walls, applying Braille labels, and alternate formats for documents.

Utilizing contrasting colors is easy to do and can make a huge difference! For example, coloring a door frame to contrast from the colors of the wall, can assist in finding entrances and exits easier. Additionally, this can be done on bathroom doors or signs to aid in determining a men’s bathroom from a women’s. Also, by using bright colors to outline the base of each step in a stairwell, to help avoid a fall or injury!

Installing Braille lettering on signs and equipment such as a fax machine or office doors, can also help visually impaired employees locate the equipment or coworkers they may need. The benefits here empower the employee with the visual disability to be self-sufficient in their daily duties and increase their efficiency overall.

Creating alternate formats for documents can range from a few potential options, depending on the specific needs of your employees. For employees who have limited vision, they can be given copies of documents with enlarged print that would allow them to read the information for themselves. On the other hand, if they are completely blind, copies can be provided in Braille or audio recordings; including the implementation of screen reading software. The best part is that all these helpful modifications can be made remarkably quick and at minimal cost to the employer!

Implementing Flexible Policies

Just about all companies have set policies all employees must abide by, such as a formal dress code. However, by allowing some flexibility, employees who suffer from visual impairments can greatly improve their production and ability to work. One common example of flexible policies is for companies who have a strict no pets policy, to allow service animals on the premises to aid employees in maneuvering around their workplace.

Furthermore, all companies no matter how big or small, have set schedules for when employees must arrive to work and when they are able to conclude their day. But what about the visually impaired commuter? They cannot walk or drive themselves and, in some cases, need special transportation in order to travel from their home. Working out a reasonable and preapproved schedule, based off the availability of necessary transportation, would allow the blind commuter to feel at ease and assure they will be on time regularly.

To conclude, making necessary alterations to the workplace and/or policies in order to enable certain employees to succeed and thrive in their position can be extremely easy and come at little to no cost at all to the employer!

 

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