How to Create a More Accessible Workplace Environment

Last Updated: 

January 30, 2024

Whether your small company is one that is entirely run from the safety and security of a traditional office environment (and tends to provide services to the consumer and client, rather than physical products) or else is a more practical and hands-on manufacturing firm, accessibility is essential.

So here, in an effort to help make accessibility something within your small business set-up, which is always at the centre of consideration, is how to create a more accessible workplace environment for everyone.

Key Takeaways on Creating a More Accessible Workplace Environment:

  1. Modify & Improve the Reception Area: Ensure the reception area is physically accessible for employees, clients, and visitors. It should be easy to access from outside, comfortable, spacious, and equipped for visitors to sign in and interact with reception staff.
  2. Use Assistive Technology: Implement various assistive technologies to enhance accessibility. This includes color-coded keyboards, sign language applications, speech recognition software and devices, Braille signage and keyboards, and assistive listening devices. Ensure these are clearly marked and known to all through training sessions and meetings.
  3. Strive to Create a Less Stressful Pace: Address workplace stress as it can negatively impact physical health, decision-making, critical thinking, and concentration levels. A less stressful environment is crucial for all employees, including those with disabilities.
  4. Physical Aspects of the Office: Focus on the physical accessibility of the office space. This includes installing and maintaining elevators if the office is not on the ground floor, ensuring no areas are accessible only by stairs, providing clear signage, and keeping the floorspace clutter-free.
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Modify & Improve the Reception Area

When it comes to ensuring that the entirety of your workplace is as physically accessible as possible, you should not only consider your employees, but also visiting clients, customers and other members of the business too.

Your reception area should, quite obviously, be easily accessible to service users from the outside, but should also be a comfortable and spacious place for visitors to sign in and discuss any questions or issues with the reception staff.

Use Assistive Technology

Fortunately, as technology is obviously evolving and improving at a, frankly, altogether flabbergasting rate, one huge benefit is the advent of various assistive technologies.

Your human resources department has a huge role to play in this, in particular when it comes to arranging training sessions and meetings to discuss new procedures and policies. All areas should be clearly marked, including fire exits and the best way to do this is to invest in quality custom stencils which can direct people to where items of assistive technology are located.

Some of the most effective pieces of assistive technology widely available to business and workplaces of any type in any industry include:

  • Colour Coded Keyboards
  • Sign Language Applications
  • Software & Devices with Built-In Speech Recognition
  • Braille Signage, Displays & Keyboards
  • Assistive Listening Devices

Strive to Create a Less Stressful Pace

Obviously, even if as a smaller business your workforce consists of just a few members of staff, the higher levels of stress and pressure they are feeling will inevitably and wholly negatively impact on their work.

Stress can have major effects on not only the physical body, such as heightening the blood pressure and flow and increasing the symptoms of low mood and anxiety, but also can cause imbalances in their decision making, critical thinking and concentration levels.

Physical Aspects of the Office

Obviously, when most people think about accessibility, they imagine the physical problems and issues they could face when entering the building. Thankfully, it is now becoming not only a moral obligation to make an office or workspace accessible, but a legal one as well.

If your office is located on a floor at a different level to the ground, then a fully working and well-maintained elevator must be installed and there should be no area within the space that can only be accessed by stairs. Additionally, ample signage should be provided to direct service users to the appropriate places and the floorspace should be consistently kept as clutter-free as possible. 

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