Creating an inclusive work environment is the best way to ensure that both accessibility and productivity are fully realized in our dynamic business world. No two people have the same problem solving processes, ideals or passions, regardless of their physical or mental ability. An inclusive environment accommodates workers of various skill levels, which in turn provides a diverse range of individual talents and strengths that can be used to develop new ideas. Celebrating and respecting diversity among coworkers are essential components in developing new ideas, and new ideas are the foundation for future growth in all industries.
At the heart of the inclusive workplace he joins the management team and their ability to implement environmental supports to foster a corporate culture of acceptance and communication. Behavior, individual attitudes of workers, and internal processes should be leveraged to support environmental inclusion, as determined by the unique landscape of each institution or company. Managers play a vital role in aligning with the resulting vision while leading employees through the implementation of inclusive practices.
Managers must consider the uniqueness of each individual when designing a program to help employees of all levels of physical and intellectual ability interact with one another. The following is an outline for disability program managers and counselors to guide employees in respectful communication with co-workers with visual, hearing, physical, and developmental disabilities, respectfully (i):
Communication with co-workers with visual impairments
• Identify yourself and the people who accompany you.
• Mention any previous interactions to help the employee remember previous commitments they may have had with you.
• Name the person you are talking to when talking to a group of co-workers.
• If the conversation is over, indicate that you are moving to another location
• Courteously clearing the obstacle area
• If necessary, describe the environment to the coworker.
• If he offers to take the coworker somewhere else, invite him to take him by the arm
• If the coworker prefers to walk independently, walk a half step forward and listen carefully to instructions and questions.
• Offer to read written information when appropriate.
• Do not pet or play with guide dogs, if present, as it is distracting and inappropriate.
Communication with co-workers with hearing impairments
• Identify the required language if you use interpreter services
• Speak clearly and at a moderate pace that allows the interpreter to use sign language to convey the message to the co-worker.
• Allow the co-worker to communicate in return, through the interpreter.
• Use clear or written non-verbal body language when communicating one-on-one.
• To facilitate lip reading, look at your co-worker and keep your hands and objects away from your face.
• Look at your coworker and speak in a clear, slow voice.
• When possible, converse in a quiet environment and move around to eliminate disturbing background noises.
Communication with co-workers with physical disabilities
• Facilitate movement in a wheelchair, scooter, or other mobility aid by rearranging furniture in the room
• When standing nearby, do not excessively lean or touch someone else’s mobility device as it is considered personal space.
• Always carefully consider what may or may not be accessible to people in wheelchairs and other mobility aids.
• Do not push or move a co-worker in their wheelchair unless instructed to do so.
Communication with co-workers with developmental disabilities
• Inclusion begins with a fundamental understanding of the person, their background, and their overall personality – get to know the person so you can include them
• Offer help when needed
• Repeat information in a slow and articulate way when necessary
• Speak directly with the coworker
• Listen actively and attentively
Managers, disability program advisers, and disability training consultants are charged with developing and clearly communicating policies that provide an unbreakable framework for respectful employee interaction and diversification. Policies should first seek to maximize the range of unique talents and strengths among workers by hiring people of all abilities.
Essential to management’s creation of an inclusive workplace is their ability to provide diversity education to employees. The greatest importance lies in the management’s ability to foster an environment that encourages courteous and independent communication between people of all physical and mental abilities. Various disability training resources and disability training DVDs highlight the importance of fostering an environment in which all people, from those with high intellectual abilities to those with mental and physical disabilities, feel accepted, unified and valued. Continuing disability education is critical to ensuring that all members of the company or institution are aware of the nature of different disabilities, the availability of training resources, and evolving strategies for inclusion in the workplace.
(i) Secretary of the Treasury Board of Canada, http://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/pubs_pol/hrpubs/tb_852/cwwed1-eng.asp