Accessibility: How to ensure your workplace is inclusive

How can you ensure IT remains accessible for people with disabilities? It's imperative that you consider the options...

Assistive technologies cover the software employees are using. It could be specialist programs like a screen reader for a person with visual impairment(s) or it could be a tool that changes the double click speed of the mouse if you can't do so quickly enough. Alternatively, assistive technology covers the adaptation of existing software to meet the employee's needs.

These assistive technologies are not all equal and don't necessarily meet an employee's specific needs.

For example, there are more than 25 different spellchecker tools for dyslexia, but for example, if you type physics in a very phonetic way, like fizix, some tools wouldn't come up with the alternative because it's so different to how the word is spelt.

Specialist dyslexia tools can understand phonetic spelling and can speak out an alternative if you have severe dyslexia, so the employee has a better chance of getting it correct, first time.

Finding out which solution is right for that individual is essential. It's not something that can be done easily if you don't have the in-house resource to dedicate the time and effort required, at least initially.

Having a strategy in place allowing you to employ people with disabilities is just as important as addressing the needs of those who already work in your company. Whether it's computer peripheries or specialist software, the investment in assessing what your staff needs will be worthwhile. What's more, it's ultimately required by law so is ignored at your peril.

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