Skip to Main Content Skip to Footer Content
Call Us Today! Experts now available 24/7.

6 Ways To Make Your Workplace More Accessible

 Posted on: February 21st, 2023

A businessperson who uses a wheelchair sits at their work desk with a colleague.

Workplace accessibility ensures that workers have easy, equal access to a professional environment. An accessible workplace accommodates all employees, including those with disabilities. It creates a welcoming environment where everyone can use physical spaces and fulfill their responsibilities.

Physical accessibility is one major component of workplace accessibility. It protects your right to use parking spaces, restrooms, elevators, and other facilities regardless of any physical challenges. Workplace accessibility also includes digital accessibility: equal access to websites, phones, and other technology.

Business owners without a workplace accessibility plan should create one as soon as possible. This includes assessing workplace facilities and identifying any barriers to accessibility. Business owners should develop a plan to remove barriers and install reasonable accommodations. This might mean modifying the workplace layout, using accessible technology, or providing employee training.

Having an accessible workplace is also required by law. All companies are required to comply with accessibility regulations, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This act outlines disability rights and protects equal opportunity for all employees.

Prioritize Inclusivity

An inclusive workplace welcomes individuals with diverse backgrounds and experiences. All individuals are valued, respected, and heard within an inclusive work culture. Companies that prioritize inclusivity help foster creativity, spontaneity, and original thought across the workplace.

Here are a few ways to prioritize inclusivity in the workplace:

  • Encourage open communication among all employees;
  • Create opportunities for teamwork in the workplace, particularly among individuals of different backgrounds or cultures;
  • Reward employee participation in decision-making processes;
  • Provide employees with diversity and inclusion training;
  • Offer flexible work arrangements to accommodate all employees’ needs;
  • Celebrate and promote diverse cultures, backgrounds, and employee experiences in the workplace.

Creating an inclusive work environment also helps create accessibility. Inclusivity makes the office a more welcoming, accommodating place for all workers. Prioritizing inclusivity might mean changes to the physical workspace to help employees with disabilities feel included. An inclusive workspace also helps foster a sense of belonging, where all employees have access to the same resources.

Ensure the Workplace Meets Building Accessibility Standards

An accessible workplace is also ADA-compliant. To be ADA-compliant, a business must ensure that its facilities, services, and programs are accessible to individuals with disabilities. This includes renovating workspaces that are currently not accessible to all employees.

Examples of ADA compliance in the workplace include:

  • Installing ramps, platforms, and other utilities that create accessible pathways;
  • Providing accessible parking spaces that are located close to employees’ place of work;
  • Installing visual fire alarms and other notification systems for individuals with hearing challenges;
  • Modifying bathrooms to make them accessible to individuals with disabilities;
  • Implementing automatic door openers;
  • Ensuring that all information and communication technology (ICT) is accessible;
  • Posting accessible signs and warning placards.

Businesses that fail to meet accessibility standards can face legal action. This legal action could include federally imposed fines or other penalties.

Implement Technological Accessibility Tools

Some businesses allow employees to work from home. However, companies that offer remote work must still uphold accessibility standards. There are several ways to prioritize accessibility in a virtual workplace.

Businesses can use the following strategies to implement accessibility in a remote work environment:

  • Providing accessibility software like screen readers and magnification programs;
  • Ensuring that websites and online platforms are accessible for all employees;
  • Offering alternative digital formats, including audio descriptions and large print materials, for employees with vision challenges;
  • Adding closed captions or sign language interpretation services to virtual meetings or events;
  • Creating training and support programs that teach employees how to use accessible technology.

ADA requirements still apply to employees who work from home. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) ensures that companies accommodate disabled employees, no matter their work environment. Companies can provide accessible technology, training, and equipment to their remote workforce. Employers can use automation tools to enforce accessibility across the company.

Train Employees on Workplace Accessibility Standards

Employees should receive training on how to access, and use, accessibility tools. Trained workers help to create a confident, inclusive work environment — even when working remotely.

There are many online resources to educate employees on current accessibility standards. Some of these resources include:

  • The ADA website: provides information on the ADA and its requirements and outlines best practices when implementing workplace accessibility standards;
  • The U.S. Access Board: a federal agency that provides more information on accessibility guidelines, offering training and resources to help business owners understand ADA obligations;
  • Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG): help make the web accessible to users with disabilities by providing business leaders with guidelines to optimize websites, online platforms, and digital content for accessibility.

These standards do more than establish an accessible workplace. They also help employees understand their rights to accessibility. These regulations create a more inclusive workplace culture and promote trust between employees of all backgrounds.

Create a Safe Environment That Encourages Employees To Speak Up

Employees enjoy working for companies that protect accessibility. All workers should feel comfortable speaking about their workplace, whether they’re concerned or thankful. An accessible work environment allows employees of all backgrounds or levels of experience to feel heard.

Here are a few tips to help employees feel safe and heard:

  • Lead by example: Share your own thoughts on workplace accessibility. Encourage employees to share their thoughts as well. Let employees know you value their input.
  • Apply employee feedback: Reassure employees that theory feedback is heard. Demonstrate your commitment to accessibility by implementing reasonable employee suggestions.
  • Address concerns in a timely manner: Be sure to address employee concerns soon after employees voice them. Provide employees with a resolution timeline and let them know when they can expect to see updates.
  • Offer support: Provide resources to employees who raise concerns. This can include access to an employee assistance program or counseling services.

These steps can help create a workplace where employees can openly share feedback. A workplace open to employee feedback can lead to more positive, productive experiences for all employees.

Develop Genuine Workplace Connections

Accessible workplaces can also help foster genuine connections between workers. Opening up is a great way to build professional workplace relationships. Employees build trust through open lines of communication. This trust reinforces an already positive, inclusive workplace culture.

Companies should also develop genuine connections with other professional contacts — including clients. This creates improved customer relations. It also helps to improve customer loyalty and creates opportunities for increased business.

Open communication also leads to better, faster conflict resolution. Employees with personal connections can fix problems faster, further increasing trust and understanding.

Employee satisfaction also stands to gain from genuine workplace connections. When employees feel valued and heard, they are more likely to be satisfied with their job. This job satisfaction can help improve workplace motivation, where every employee works hard to be their best self.