Accessibility in the Workplace for Disabilities

I’m working on a little side project with the Richmond Multicultural Concerns Society as a member of their advisory committee for the Welcoming and Inclusive Communities and Workplaces Programs (WICWP). One of the topics we’ve discussed in our past meetings is a “workplace diversity audit”. As a member of this committee, we talk about all sorts of cultural diversity regarding the workplace; however, I am fortunate to be a part of this committee by contributing my take on diversity from the standpoint of working at the Developmental Disabilities Association. For our diversity audit, here are some things to consider and some changes (some smaller, and some larger) for any workplace to become more accommodating for anybody with a physical or intellectual disability:

  • Use large print and refrain from using cursive fonts, italics, or fonts with serifs (typography tip of the day: Verdana is considered the most readable font on print)
  • Ensure that office hallways, doors, and openings are large enough to accommodate for wheelchair passage
  • If your office has multiple floors or stairways to the front, consider an elevator or wheelchair ramps
  • Write using simple text in layman’s terms instead of using flowery jargon and excess adjectives (here is a comprehensive article on communicating with and about people with disabilities in general from the U.S. Department of Labor)
  • Install handrails in areas such as long walkways and in washrooms
  • Use different auditory or visual instruments (such as auditory feedbacks, voice output software and pictures) for people who may have difficulty with learning in one particular learning style

There are plenty of other ways to ensure your workplace is accommodating for people with disabilities, and it’s important to be understanding and accepting of others and their differences. Another great article to read on workplace disabilities is Paul Rendine: Workplace accommodations mostly easy to implement.


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