Support Workers with Disabilities via Smart Technology

A more accessible workplace is beneficial for both workers and employers. And there are many excellent technology solutions to support employees of all abilities as they work toward career goals. While resources abound for supporting your organization’s recruitment efforts, implementing technology for people with disabilities is more of a challenge. Here’s where to start.

Support remote learning for career development. Remote learning is poised to overtake in-person education, from grade-school students to master’s degree candidates. Organizations that support and encourage distance learning for employee growth are ahead of the curve when it comes to skill development.

Of course, addressing the unique needs of staff with disabilities is crucial in making remote learning available to all. Training remote employees requires a few adjustments compared to in-person courses as well.

Prioritizing clear communication, providing live support, and outlining specific outcomes are instrumental for worker success. But thinking beyond stereotypical disabilities – such as people who use wheelchairs or those who are hard of hearing – is a must.

For example, adjustments for neurodiverse staff are a vital consideration. Offering various modes of learning and self-paced training modules are two smart strategies that deliver the necessary support to people of all abilities.

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Offer home-based opportunities. Many workers with disabilities require reasonable modifications for physical accessibility in the workplace. But by offering home-based opportunities, you can avoid the need for on-site upgrades and expenses.

At the same time, allowing staff to work from home supports disability-related lifestyle needs as well. As Forbes explains, remote work is the newest and most effective inclusionary practice. Workers who were previously unable to travel or physically reach the workplace can now participate – and grow their careers – remotely.

Companies may even find that lower overhead costs mean more funds available for technology upgrades. Affordable laptops – especially when purchased during holiday savings events and with brand discounts – are a low-cost investment in your employees’ productivity.

Further, many job seekers with disabilities often turn to more flexible work through freelancing sites. Attracting qualified candidates whose only accommodation is the ability to work from home can be hugely beneficial for your organization.

After all, online jobs are up 14 percent, with many in-demand roles seeing a landslide of qualified applicants. Workers with disabilities may be a minority, but they are also dynamic individuals who can possess a range of talents that are complementary to your business efforts.

Implement assistive technology. For both the hiring process and over the course of a worker’s employment, companies can implement assistive technology to streamline job functions. For example, hiring managers can make it a policy to inquire whether applicants need disability-related accommodations during the interview process.

A deaf candidate may request to have an interpreter present, for example. Or they may request to conduct the interview through a live video meeting that incorporates text chat functions. Remaining open to applicants’ needs – and making accommodations in your offices or within your processes – is instrumental in achieving a diverse and effective workforce.

Once you hire a staff member who has a disability, many tools – such as project management platforms – offer inherent accessibility. Utilizing collaborative platforms ensures that each staff member can participate in project development at their unique comfort level. Whether that’s through real-time chat, video calls, or a company-wide newsfeed, variety is essential.

Welcoming employees with disabilities into your organization can feel intimidating. But using technology to support each step can streamline the process and make new workers feel comfortable at your company. Such modifications can also attract a more talented, driven, and diverse workforce.

Patrick Young
Patrick Young runs the blog site AbleUSA. He can be reached at patrickyoung (at) ableusa (dot) info.

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