Some accommodations to make the workplace accessible for visually impaired people
It has been proven time and again that people with visual impairments can perform their office duties successfully in different types of businesses and work setups.
Every day we read about blind people working in various fields, be it law, education, industry, banking or IT. In fact there are thousands of skilled and talented people with visual impairments that want to be employed.
A major hindrance is social stigma, narrow mindset and lack of inclusive workplaces and all these can be changed. To start with, people can hire skilled blind people in their companies and give them the opportunity to prove themselves and be financially independent.
When blind people go to an office, they wish to be as independent as possible. A clutter free and labelled workplace can help blind people navigate around the office without assistance from others. – Sadaf Khan, HR Consultant (Finance Domain)
Here are few ideas for making the workplace inclusive for employees with visual impairments.
In any office, the availability of information needs to be same for all the employees to help them carry out their work with ease and accurately. When you have visually impaired people in the office, this can be achieved with the use of easily available technology. To bring all employees at the same information access level, intranet can be used.
The interface can be used to access basic office info such as
- Staff information
- Employee handbook
- Meeting details
- Everyday notifications
Some office also have intranet platforms with chatting facilities that helps the employees stay connected with each other and communicate without moving around a lot.
Technology can also be used to reduce written work and most of the office work can be completed with the help of computers. Use of Electronic Documents and E-mail can make the work accessible for blind employees.
Braille readers and documents in braille can also be provided for the staff. Signage, tactile and labels in braille are simple methods that can help blond employees to navigate through the workplace.
Teleconferences and voice mails are also commonly used audio tools, particularly in companies with multiple offices. There are a lot of Assistive Technology aids available that can make an office inclusive such as color-coded keyboards, braille displays, screen reader software, assistive listening devices.
It is also important to sensitize the staff when a blind employee comes on board. Training sessions and information can be given out to the other employees. This will not only make them aware about the challenges faced by blind people, but will also prepare them practically for the new colleagues.
Disabled-friendly parking, washrooms, accessible websites, are some of the basic necessities of an inclusive workplace. Labelling the doors in Braille, keeping printers and photocopiers at proper places are some of the much needed considerations.
Keeping the furniture in proper place and maintain a clutter free office is important to avoid accidents and make it easier for blind employees to walk around the office. Promotions, assessments and appraisals should be carried out equally for employees as per their abilities and talents.
"I head two initiatives both are inclusive workplaces", says Anuradha Krishnamoorthy, Founder, Krea eKnowledge Pvt Ltd. and Can DO, a CSR initiative, that provides training and employment for people with disabilities.
"My personal observation is that having such an inclusive workplace is very symbiotic. It provides opportunities for the so called normal individuals to be aware of the specific needs of PwDs. In fact when other employees see the commitment and work ethics of the disabled people, they are in turn motivated to perform better."
Sensitization needs to be carried out at all levels of the organization as awareness about the needs of blind people can go a long way in making their workday easier and enabling them to achieve their best.
It goes without saying that the management should be non-discriminative towards the blind employee and the use of fair practices is made throughout the workplace.
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