Accessibility is More than a Ramp

By Nicole Flynn, Associate Consultant

What do you need to do your job well?

The accommodations a person requires to be successful at their job are as diverse as the people on the planet. The same job can be done in a variety of ways depending on a person’s needs.

As long as the job is done successfully, does the ability of the person matter, or the supports that were required?

Do you realize that the inherited assumptions and attitudes, towards people who are not part of mainstream society, lead to an exclusion from the workplace?

In our capitalist society there is a viscous cycle of “want it, buy it, work to pay it off.” This attitude may benefit people who are able to earn money. However, for many people from marginalized communities, this leads to a continual loop of getting deeper into poverty and debt.

Poverty affects employment in many ways, such as high costs for transportation, medications, healthy food, among other necessities that may be out of reach. Lack of funds for internet, reading material, or courses affects personal growth. We, as a society, have the ability to change history, by making workplaces accessible.

First and foremost, we need to change the work atmosphere to be accepting of diverse abilities. We need to work with people and maintain a positive environment to encourage employees.

Interviews may be very stressful for people. First impressions are extremely important which can increase anxiety because not all people handle greetings and small talk well. It may take time for a person to warm up and be comfortable speaking to a new person. Instead of asking questions, the interviewer could give the perspective employee a task and ask that person how they would accomplish it. For example, I was once asked, in an interview, to explain how I would reorganize the filing system. To assist with communication, the interviewer could illustrate a scenario with images, which may stimulate ideas and help someone feel more comfortable speaking. To help someone open the correct file in their mind, the interviewer could ask the person to talk about projects completed or life experiences.

Communication, resources, and accommodations are necessary to assist an employee to do their job well. It is important to discuss ways to help the employee be successful. For example, moving a work table to the right height, or having a specific type of seat. Also, having one resource person such as the boss, manager or supervisor as a dedicated person for assistance rather than having multiple people giving different instructions and feedback which could increase confusion. Providing a plain language check list of tasks and breaking tasks down into smaller steps may be beneficial. Time management may be difficult, therefore creating a clear schedule with start and finish times, as well as breaks, is vital. Being organized with expectations, priorities and flexible time frames to accommodate health concerns may be helpful.

Supervisors can assist with the acceptance of a new employee by being a positive influence and encouraging a team atmosphere. Co-workers will most often follow the example of their employer or supervisor. Being open to new ideas, taking the time to listen and working together will lead to new experiences and perspectives for the entire team.

A good strong foundation in communication, providing suggestions, and working together to make the workplace accessible and comfortable, will benefit the organization. Exposing the employee to the employer’s perspective and the employer to the experience of the employee will increase understanding. This will allow both parties to meet in the middle where the employee is supported to accomplish the job efficiently. Working with each other, at the table, benefits everyone. By increasing accommodations in the workplace, together, we can decrease poverty. Making the workplace welcoming, accessible, and inclusive will assist any employee or employer, disabled or not.

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About Nicole

Nicole Flynn is from the rural area of Centre Hastings, Ontario. She is a graduate of the Loyalist College General Arts and Science diploma program (not modified). Nicole is an entrepreneur, an Associate Consultant with People Minded Business Inc. (PMB), and an international medalist in three sports. She is a global citizen who believes in freedom, power, and prosperity for everyone.

Nicole’s goal is to experience and learn more about what is happening around the world and to share her knowledge with others. It is her hope that by reading Nicole’s Notes, people will broaden their perspective, re-evaluate their assumptions and attitudes, and bring their creative ideas and inputs to the table.

Nicole's Notes

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