When we think of accessibility we usually tend to think of stairs, lifts, cars or public transport; ways in which we can get from A to B in the quickest time possible. For many, however, it’s not so much about the time it takes to get from one place to another, but the issue of whether they can actually get there at all.
In the workplace
Train stations, public toilets and restaurants are slowly integrating step-free access for people with disabilities, and offices around the UK are following suit. It’s incredibly important that everybody working in an office has equal accessibility to toilets, kitchen areas and lifts to transport them from floor to floor. Office buildings such as Prospect House, located in Leeds, offers its customers lifts, kitchens and toilets on every floor, open plan spaces that provide more room to manoeuvre and an on-site customer service team should anyone wish to express any concerns or issues regarding the building. They also welcome guide dogs for members of staff with sight issues.
Ways to make an office disabled-friendly
One key area that other offices should take into consideration are entry and exit points. Whilst it’s great that workers can get up and down the building easily, it’s also important that they have ease of access to enter and exit the building. Should there be a fire or another emergency, it’s vital that all members of staff are able to vacate the premises as quickly as possible. Office managers should also make sure that exits around the building are always kept clear of obstructions such as deliveries or waste.
Offices could look at introducing revolving or automated doors so that those less able can enter and leave their place of work without having to struggle with heavy doors or out-of-reach handles. Doorways should be wide enough for wheelchairs or mobility scooters to fit through, there should also be a suitable area inside the building where chairs and scooters can be left if they are not needed throughout the day.
If office buildings have ownership of a car park then spaces closest should be offered to disabled staff, so that they do not have to worry about getting to and from their car.
Workspace areas and desks shouldn’t be overlooked; items such as orthopaedic chairs, ergonomic keyboards, screen magnifiers and Braille software should be available for staff with disabilities. All staff should be equally equipped to complete their work in a comfortable environment.
First aid kits should be on hand and in the event of an accident, there should be a qualified first aider in the building at all times. HR teams should be on site or close by should any issues arise and it may even be beneficial to have a member of HR specifically assigned to an employee with a disability.
Look after workers
Whilst there are many practical ways office managers can assist disabled employees, it’s important to remember to regularly check in with members of staff who require assistance in the workplace. Employees should feel happy and confident at work, regardless of their physical ailments and offices should aim to be open to making changes in order to support others