From compliance to inclusivity: embracing workplace accessibility for all

Are companies going far enough when it comes to workplace accessibility? They might be meeting minimum legal requirements, but companies should go above and beyond to be inclusive

In the UK, workplace accessibility is governed by the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA), which sets out a series of requirements for companies to be meeting with their office space. The act makes it unlawful to discriminate against those with a disability.

A quick Google search for DDA Compliance reveals the words ‘ramps’ and ‘rails’ on repeat and although it is great to see that we are making sure that the needs of individuals with limited mobility are being addressed, this is only meeting the minimum requirements set out by the DDA.

It must also be emphasised that disabilities are not limited to just an individual’s physical attributes but also include the non-visible conditions, those who are neuro divergent as well as those with mental health issues. Here, we take a look at why going beyond DDA compliance is fundamental to social sustainability in the workplace and what practical steps can be taken to achieve excellence.

Beyond legal requirements

DDA Compliance over the years has felt like a tick-box exercise for those who are affected and those who enforce it. What we have become accustomed to is the baseline standard. However, exceeding these requirements shows commitment, as an organisation, to equality, diversity, and inclusion for those with disabilities. By trying to exceed the DDA compliance and by taking an active role in identifying and working on accessibility barriers, an organisation can proudly promote a positive and empowering work environment where all employees of all ages and abilities can feel valued.

Exceeding DDA compliance is beneficial for both employees and organisations. By providing greater access to facilities, technology and opportunities for employees’ professional grow, companies can benefit from enhanced productivity, increased job satisfaction and consequently, a more committed workforce. An inclusive workplace will no doubt enhance the reputation of the company, attracting a more diverse talent pool which can lead to long -term success.

Practical steps

To start the process of achieving accessibility excellence, companies should consider taking the following steps:

  • Perform comprehensive accessibility audits with employees throughout the year to re-evaluate company policies and ensure they remain inclusive. Involving employees in the audit process will offer invaluable feedback that can help shape the workplace and offer a more meaningful experience to employees.
  • Engage with accessibility experts for guidance: take onboard how to further improve employee’s wellbeing through the office environment and implementing universal design principles through consultation with experts.
  • Ensure that all individuals can access the organisation’s digital assets: this can be in the form of ongoing training, but it is important when training staff that there is awareness of difficulties individuals can face when learning. Companies must establish clear processes to help, support and accommodate everyone to conduct their tasks comfortably, regardless of their ability.
  • Collaborate with disability advocacy groups outside of the workplace: this can help organisations gain further insight and stay up to date with the latest accessibility innovations.

In short, DDA compliance is not solely about fulfilling a legal obligation; it is about fulfilling a moral obligation. By going above and beyond, organisations can not only create a workplace culture that celebrates diversity but also empower all individuals to reach their full potential. It is fundamental to acknowledge that embracing accessibility excellence is a journey that requires ongoing effort and commitment if you are wanting to be a resilient and innovative organisation that is ready to meet the challenges of the future.

Yaasmeen Muhammad is Junior Workplace Consultant at UnWork, global partner of WORKTECH Academy.
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