Throughout Spring 2021, NBDC is publishing a blog series on how employers can create a more welcoming workplace for their employees with specific types of disabilities. People with disabilities are not a monolithic group; accommodations can vary greatly depending on an individual’s type of disability. This blog is the fourth installment of the four-part series.
Employers often get stuck in attempting to solve the “how” of offering accommodations to their employees. Individuals who are Blind or low-vision are natural problem solvers. By giving them a chance to demonstrate their knack for problem solving, employers show they have trust in their employees. Fostering a supportive, welcoming workplace culture is often the most important aspect of employment for people who are Blind or low vision.
Here are four ways employers can be more welcoming to individuals who are Blind or low- vision:
- Make the application and hiring processes accessible. Accessibility in the workplace should begin before the employee’s first day. Many online job application portals are inaccessible to people who use screen readers, a software that individuals who are Blind or low-vision use to access the Internet. By using fully accessible job application platforms, individuals can, independently apply for the jobs and read and complete hiring documents. This demonstrates an employer’s commitment to creating an inclusive environment.
- Use inclusive methods and tools for communication. Diversifying employee access to training and information and resources benefits everyone! Inclusive communication for individuals who are Blind or low-vision can vary from describing charts within documents to being specific when giving direction. Avoid using vague language such as “over there” and relying on visual gestures to communicate information.
- Identify yourself when speaking. A simple “Hi Marcy, this is José,” can be an immense help to individuals who are Blind or low-vision, as they learn to whom each voice belongs. In presentations, identifying yourself can be phrased as “This is José speaking.” To paint a visual, when presenting in-person or virtually, describe yourself and what you are wearing for those who may not be able to see you. For example, “I am a middle-aged woman with dark brown hair wearing a purple sweater and gold earrings.” Be sure to verbally state when you are leaving to prevent an individual from unknowingly speaking when no one is present in the space.
- Make your documents screen-reader friendly. Creating accessible documents that can be read by a screen reader is a great way to show your employees who are Blind and low-vision that your workplace is inclusive. Adding alt-text to documents that have images, ensuring color contrast compliance, and having a heading hierarchy are all elements of an accessible document. These include job applications, onboarding materials, employee handbooks, etc.
Above all, do not make assumptions about the abilities of individuals who are Blind or low-vision. If you are unsure, feel free to ask for their feedback on the inclusivity of the workplace.
What strategies do you use to make your workplace more inclusive?