As we get closer to the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) – which was signed into law on July 26, 1990 – it’s important to take stock of what your organization is doing to help support an inclusive workplace. As our global population ages and becomes more disabled over time, accessibility for everyone will become even more of a critical issue.
Reviewing your corporate inclusion initiatives is one way to honor the ADA and help boost your organization’s potential for success; it’s a win-win situation! Here are some suggestions for initiatives to implement, straight from the experts:
Consider how you talk about disability and inclusion in your workplace
When you discuss disability and inclusion in your workplace, what themes do you notice? Do you talk about it frequently or is an afterthought – a box to tick off? Interjecting awareness and diversity and inclusion into conversations will help you build better products and create better relationships with your customers.
Think less compliance and more inclusion
When it comes to accessibility it can be easy to miss the forest for the trees. Organizations get so myopically focused on compliance that they lose sight of why inclusion is so important in the first place. Ensuring accessibility is integrated into your practices and procedures helps all employees do their jobs and all customers enjoy your products because, when it comes down to it, accessibility is about putting users first.
Review recruiting practices and check that job descriptions have inclusive language
If your job postings routinely include corporate jargon and terms like “ninja” and “rockstar,” you could be unintentionally discouraging a diverse group of candidates from applying. Intentionally avoiding insider language and gender-themed words can have a positive effect on your job applications.
Put yourself in the candidate’s shoes when you’re crafting job descriptions and requirements. Expect neurodiverse people and those with disabilities to apply, and communicate how your organization is committed to accommodating their needs. Much like the practice of accessibility, inclusive job descriptions put people first.
Establish a peer-to-peer mentoring program and review your onboarding process
When was the last time you spoke with a new hire to get their feedback on their onboarding process for the organization? Getting opinions on their experience is valuable information that can be used to continuously improve the process. A peer-to-peer mentoring program can also serve as a way to ensure employees feel comfortable and confident in their roles. While these initiatives are great for the entire workforce, they are especially important for employees with disabilities who may require assistance or accommodations that not everyone requires. Making them feel comfortable and accepted will go a long way to set them up for success.
Look at your accommodations process
Consider what accommodations you currently employ for employees with disabilities. Do you offer a work-from-home option or screen reader software like JAWS, or do you understand the level of accessibility of common work programs and employee portals? What assistive technology for individuals would you be able to provide? Magnifiers like the Compact 10 for handheld and OCR magnification, ClearView Go, and the Acrobat HD for desktop use are all immeasurably helpful tools for individuals with low vision. Reviewing what you currently offer and considering what other accommodations might be beneficial to employees with disabilities will go a long way in ensuring that your employees with disabilities are fully set up for success.
Spotlight your Disability ERG/BRG or suggest that your organization create one if you don’t have one in place
ERG/BRG stands for Employee Resource Group/Business Resource Group. Creating such a group to focus on disabilities can be instrumental in achieving the initiatives described in this post. Disability:In offers a toolkit that such groups can utilize to help move accessibility forward in their organization. It is an excellent resource for groups who may have the passion but lack the expertise in ensuring an accessible workplace and inclusive work environment.
Read Unleash Different, by Rich Donovan
Unleash Different is the inspiring story of how Rich Donovan founded two companies whose missions were focused on helping companies realize the value of people with disabilities, both as employees and as customers. Donovan has cerebral palsy, but rather than let it define his life he has used it as an energizing force for good. Unleash Different goes beyond the “moral” justification for hiring people with disabilities and baking accessibility into products and procedures by digging into the business case and profitability potential.
Your corporate inclusion initiatives are a top-down way to embrace inclusivity at your organization. For help with planning your accessibility strategy both online and real-life situations, contact us today.