With almost 14 million disabled people in the UK, there are a lot of businesses losing out on hiring talented employees due to not making their businesses accessible. Just a few minor changes could be all it takes to open up opportunities for thousands of disabled people and to help your business start to work towards a more inclusive, accepting world.
Physical changes to your building
One of the first things to consider when you’re trying to create an accessible and disabled-friendly office environment is how a disabled person would actually get into the office. If you’re able, install a lift or rent an office space with a lift to it, and make sure that smaller sets of stairs have a ramp to let wheelchair users in easily.
Consider the weight of your doors. Some people find it difficult to open large, heavy doors, and it is frustrating to have to ask for help every time someone wants to leave or enter a room. Where possible try to opt for automatic, sliding doors. Also, doorways and aisles both should be at least 32 inches wide to allow for wheelchair access. Try to keep corridors and smaller spaces free from clutter to make mobility easier for wheelchair users as well as anyone with sight impairments.
Tables can be very restrictive for disabled people without careful consideration of their height and size. Ideally, tables will be a maximum of 34 inches wide, and no less than 28 inches tall. There should be a minimum of 27 inches of clearance between the underside of the table and the floor to comfortably fit wheelchair users in.
Configure your website to make it accessible to as many users as possible. The more people who can access your website, the more customers you can gain. Easy steps to ensure your website is user-friendly include the addition of alt tags on every image on your website and making sure no important text is contained within images. Choose the colour scheme of your website, particularly any text-heavy sections carefully, or at the very least implement an adjustable colour scheme to allow people to alter it to suit individual needs. Use clear headers and an easy to follow layout, as well as a function to alter the size of the text to make it easier to see for anyone with impaired vision.
Offer an employee benefits scheme. This is good for any business, but including things such as disability insurance, private health insurance or paid sick days can really put disabled people at ease. To start working on an effective employee benefits program, try out zest benefits.
Your advertising scheme is a major part of any business. Make sure your adverts are accessible to reach the widest possible audience. Include both text and an audio description of at least the main points of your advert to make it accessible to people with both visual and audio impairments. Keep your adverts clear and clutter-free, as well as in simple English to make them as easy as possible to read. Use simple and clear fonts, as ‘handwritten’ style fonts can be difficult to read.
Train all of your staff, especially ones in customer-facing roles to provide access and help to all customers. Teach your staff how to communicate with customers with a variety of disability types, and train employees on inclusive communication. Certain customers may need more help than others, so let people know on your website or in your place of business what services you provide and how you can help.