Remove the Barriers and Be Prepared to Be Amazed
Accessibility means removing the barriers to everyone’s full participation in society.
In a broader sense, this can include ramps and wide enough entryways in the built environment, websites that include— but are not limited to— descriptions of images, or alt text, plain language writing, audio descriptions, and more.
Considering that 20% of Canadians identify with some form of disability, it’s imperative to consider that preventing full access to public spaces, the Internet, transit, community events and work is denying opportunities and creating suffering.
Keeping pace with accessibility requirements means more people will have the opportunity to participate in products, services, educational institutions and facilities.
In addition — I would argue crucially — implementing accessibility will result in people with disabilities having more opportunities for meaningful employment and financial security. For those already in the workforce, being part of teams that are proactive in their accommodations, training, and support will lead to increased job satisfaction and opportunities for advancement.
Yet, it can feel overwhelming to contemplate accessibility as an employer.
However, I have good news for you: many of the access needs that will help your team shine won’t put a dent in your bottom line; it’s more about curiosity and a willingness to try a fresh approach. Throughout the process, you will find increases in innovation and creativity that will astonish and delight you.
At work, there are many ways to create a more inclusive environment for people with disabilities.
When you remove the barriers and create a truly accessible workplace, incredible things happen. According to Disability:IN companies that champion disability were four times more likely to see higher returns than their competitors.
The quiet team member that was too busy advocating for her access needs will have the capacity to foster unique solutions that address issues you’ve been grappling with for years. The account manager struggling during Zoom calls will start offering fresh ideas that generate additional revenue when you turn the captions on. The list goes on.
Where to begin?
Chunk it down to small changes. Start with looking at your weekly team meetings. If you’re hosting on Zoom, do you have captions turned on? Prior to the quarterly in-person editorial brainstorming session, are you sending an agenda beforehand?
I was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in my early 50’s. I’m fortunate in that I have the resources and support to effectively manage my attention and time.
It is not a disease, nor is it an excuse. I like to say I’m wired to innovate. But due to sensory processing challenges, loud noises or bright offices can be difficult to navigate. In environments with too many distractions and constant background noise, I used to get overwhelmed and it would impact my productivity.
After the noise and distractions were removed when I returned to working from home, my creativity and efficiency soared. My health improved and so did the quality of my work.
I’m also mostly deaf so captions on Zoom/Teams calls mean I don’t miss out on important information. When colleagues provide a meeting agenda in advance of a creative brainstorming session, I know what to expect and arrive prepared and ready to contribute. When meeting in person, reducing cross-talk gives me the opportunity to process each person’s contributions and participate in the conversation.
There are many other ways to create an accessible and inclusive experience for your teams, clients, and community.
Reach out to the Untapped Accessibility team to learn more.