If you’re looking to create a more inclusive, diverse and accessible work environment for your employees, conducting a workplace accessibility audit is the best place to start.
In this article, we’ll explore our top tips on how to effectively audit your company’s physical and digital environments, and learn how to create a more supportive environment for employees of all abilities. Let’s take a look.
What is workplace accessibility?
Workplace accessibility refers to the physical and digital design and modification of a workplace to ensure that employees of all abilities can access and use the facilities, equipment, software and information necessary to perform their job duties.
Why is workplace accessibility important?
Legally, under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992, employers in Australia are required to ensure that employees with disabitlity have equal access to employment opportunities, facilities, and services.
This includes providing reasonable accommodations and modifications to the workplace to ensure accessibility.
However, creating an accessible workplace isn’t just a legal requirement in Australia, it is also a gateway to creating a diverse and inclusive workplace where employees feel supported.
Having a diverse workplace is extremely beneficial for many reasons, including promoting different ideas and perspectives, which can help to drive innovation and growth. An inclusive workplace makes employees feel supported and respected, which can lead to increased employee satisfaction, morale and productivity.
Conducting a workplace accessibility audit
The best way to determine whether your company is accessible and how you can make improvements is to conduct a workplace accessibility audit.
A workplace accessibility audit is an evaluation of a workplace environment to assess the level of accessibility for people of all abilities.
The audit typically includes:
- An assessment of the physical environment, such as the layout of the building, the accessibility of entrances and exits, the availability of accessible parking and restroom facilities.
- The availability of assistive technologies.
The audit will also include an analysis of a company’s online workspace to ensure digital accessibility and assess best practices.
The goal of the audit is to identify any potential barriers to accessibility and to recommend changes to ensure that the workplace is accessible to all employees.
Step 1: Establish the purpose and scope of the audit
Before conducting an accessibility audit, it is important to establish the purpose and scope of the audit. This includes identifying the areas of the workplace that will be assessed and the specific accessibility guidelines that will be used.
Step 2: Gather information and resources
To conduct an effective accessibility audit, it is important to gather information and resources, such as accessibility guidelines, checklists, tools and legal requirements. This information can be obtained from disability advocacy groups, government agencies, and accessibility consultants.
Step 3: Assess the physical environment
The physical environment of the workplace should be assessed for accessibility, including building access, parking, entrances, restrooms, and workstations. This includes assessing wheelchair accessibility, signage, lighting, and other factors that may impact accessibility.
Step 4: Assess the digital environment
The digital environment of the workplace should be assessed with usability for people of all abilities in mind. This includes evaluating any digital tools that employees are required to use, such as websites, applications, and other software.
Additionally, the audit should assess the availability of assistive technologies, such as screen readers, and evaluate the usability of the digital environment for people living with disabilities.
Step 5: Assess communication and information delivery
Communication and information accessibility should also be assessed, including the accessibility of written materials, electronic communications, and assistive technology.
This includes assessing the way written communication is formatted, the availability of alternative formats, such as braille or audio, and the use of plain language.
Step 5: Assess policies and procedures
Policies and procedures should also be assessed for accessibility, including recruitment and hiring practices, training and development programs, and performance management processes. This includes assessing the availability of reasonable accommodations and modifications.
Step 6: Analyse the results
After completing the accessibility audit, the results should be analysed to identify areas of the workplace that require improvement. This includes prioritising changes based on the level of impact on accessibility and the resources required to implement the changes.
Implementing changes for workplace accessibility
After the workplace accessibility audit is complete comes the most important part—implementing any required changes that were identified in the audit. Here are some things to keep in mind:
Communicate with your employees about the audit and any necessary changes
It is important to communicate with your current employees about the accessibility audit and the necessary changes to ensure that they understand the purpose and benefits of creating an accessible workplace.
Prioritise changes based on the audit results
Changes should be prioritised based on the level of impact on accessibility and the resources required to implement the changes. This includes identifying both quick wins and long-term goals for improving accessibility.
Create an action plan for implementing changes
An action plan should be created to outline the steps required to implement the necessary changes, including timelines, resources, and responsible parties. This includes identifying the budget required to implement the changes.
Monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of changes
After implementing the necessary changes, it is important to monitor and evaluate their effectiveness to ensure that they have improved accessibility in the workplace.
This includes asking for feedback from your employees, paying attention to the overall culture and team morale over time, and making adjustments as necessary.
Need a hand increasing workplace accessibility?
Having an accessible workplace is extremely important for both your company, and your employees, but it can be a big task to set up effectively.
If you need support getting these best practices in place, you might like to consider reaching out to professional employment services who can assist you.
“If you are currently employing staff who are living with a disability, you may be eligible for assistance from programs that help organise work for people with disability, like APM DES Perth, to help you make any required workplace modifications and adjustments.
Conducting a workplace accessibility audit is an important step towards creating an inclusive workplace for all employees, regardless of their abilities.
By identifying areas of the workplace that require improvement and implementing necessary changes, you’ll be able to improve employee satisfaction, productivity, and retention, while also complying with legal requirements for workplace accessibility.