What makes a workplace accessible?
This is a question that I as an accessibility consultant get asked almost
every day. When does a workplace become accessible? Is it when a person is
able to function independently? Or is it when a person feels that they can
perform all of the duties of their job without having to ask for help? Or
is when management feels that they have done everything within their power
to make it so?
As I write this, I am reminded of not too long ago when blind persons simply
dreamed of being able to use mobile devices independently and efficiently.
I too dreamed of it and thanks to the vision and hard work of the late Steve
Jobs, devices such as the IPad, IPhone, and IPod Touch have all been made
accessible to us.
I don’t think that anyone could have imagined that some day sooner than
later this could have been accomplished but it has and so now I apply the
same thought process to the questions above. In fairness to all concerned,
the answers to these questions may be different; depending on which view you
take. However, and for what it is worth, I am going to confuse things a tad
and my response would be a combination of the first two responses that I
have listed above.
I believe that an accessible workplace depends on how it is viewed by the
employee being asked and as a blind person I would state the following.
My workplace is only accessible to me when I am able to do the following:
Enter the building independently without having to ask for help.
Find the elevators and be able to locate my desk without help.
Be able to log on to my system independently without having to seek help.
Be able to locate and read all electronic documents only asking for guidance
to know where to find said documents.
Be able to access my company’s intranet without having to seek sighted
Be able to locate washrooms, elevators, meeting rooms, and cafeterias with
Be able to navigate around the cafeteria with minimal assistance.
Of course, someone may think of other things to add to this list
This is my idea of a completely accessible workplace.
I’m Donna J. Jodhan your free lance writer and roving reporter wishing you a
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