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5 ways you can support your employees with disabilities

July is Disability Awareness Month. Here are 5 ways to make your workplace accessible.

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According to the World Health Organisation, an estimated 1.3 billion or 1 in 6 people experience significant disability. Up-to-date statistics show that in the UK, just 52.3% of disabled people are in employment, which is a drop from the previous year’s figure of 54.1%. And a recent study showed that just one third of employees with disabilities feel that their employer is genuine about inclusivity and removing barriers.

July is Disability Awareness Month. However, being aware of how to sufficiently and appropriately provide for and support your workers with disabilities should be a daily consideration. Here are five steps you can take to ensure that your workplace is inclusive and supportive of your employees with disabilities – plus, welcoming to prospective employees who may have a disability.

1. Make sure every part of the recruitment process is accessible

When you recruit for a role, take care to implement an application process that’s accessible to those with disabilities. Invest in the time to provide large print, braille, or easy-read versions of the application form. You can go a step further, and ensure your application form is compatible with screen readers.

If holding in-person interviews, ensure wheelchair accessibility, hearing loops, and computer access for those who may need it.
Once the process is complete, it’s advisable to review your recruitment process and policies to catch any hidden biases or deterrents that may have been present.

2. Provide accessible working arrangements

As the world of work slowly returns to normal in the wake of the pandemic, you may have begun to move away from the remote work model towards a hybrid or even full-time, in-office working arrangement. But consider how this affects your employees.

It’s important to remember that your working space must be accessible to employees with disabilities. While wheelchair access is, of course, imperative, there are plenty of other considerations which comprise an accessible workplace. Clean, calm, neutral spaces are important for many people with neurodivergence - such as ADHD and autism - to prevent overstimulation and distraction.

Providing special equipment such as Braille options; technological accessibility supports such as captioned phones and captioned video meetings; and dedicated parking spots can all help to support your employees with disabilities to thrive in your workplace.

Work from home options are also extremely helpful for employees with disabilities – which may, for example, prevent them from using public transport comfortably; cause them to become easily overwhelmed or overstimulated; or prevent them from being comfortable around large groups of people.

3. Ensure attitudinal awareness among staff

Whether or not you knowingly have an employee with a disability on your team, it’s still extremely important to ensure your staff have the knowledge and language necessary to create an informed and welcoming environment that is inclusive of everyone.

Putting in place policies around person-first language, dignity, and respect can be helpful when providing guidelines on creating an accessible workplace. In addition to this, many diversity and inclusion training courses are also available online and in-person.

4. Remember that not all disabilities are visible

It’s estimated that as many as 70% – 80% of disabilities are invisible. These can include autism, ADHD, PTSD, anxiety, epilepsy, sensory processing disorders, multiple sclerosis, hearing loss, and sight loss, among many others. As an employer, you must remember that just because a disability is not immediately evident to you, you cannot assume that your employee will not need support.

Creating an open, welcoming environment and ensuring that your employees have the space and time to discuss their needs can help your employees with disabilities to feel comfortable, safe, and supported. Not only is supporting your employees important from an ethical standpoint, but if you ignore or deny an employee’s request for assistance or accommodation, the company can be left open to legal action.

5. Guarantee that ALL your employees are being paid equally

Recent figures show that the pay gap between non-disabled and disabled workers is now 17.2%, or £3,700 a year, in the UK. This staggering figure almost doubles for disabled women, who can expect to be paid 35% or £7,000 less than their non-disabled counterparts.

As an employer, it is absolutely vital that you ensure all your employees are respected and treated equally, in order to continue striving toward a fair and equitable working world.

If you need help setting up a remote work environment for your workforce, or need advice on how best to support your workforce, Mauve Group can help. Read the Mauve Group guide to remote working, then get in touch with our team for additional support.