Statistics Canada estimates that one in every five working-age Canadians lives with some form of disability. The most common types of disabilities are related to mobility, pain, and mental health. Most people living with these conditions can work and do seek meaningful employment, yet nearly 40 percent of working adults with disabilities are currently unemployed. Those living with disabilities could enter the labour market, actively participate in the workforce, and contribute to the economy if organizations made improvements to workplace accessibility. This is why it is important for all organizations to promote accessibility in their workplace, both for employees and customers, even if they are not specifically required to do so by legislation.
Businesses that work to identify and reduce barriers and improve accessibility for job seekers, employees, and customers can see considerable economic gains. So why isn’t everyone creating an accessible workplace?
Accessibility is often thought of as straightforward changes to the physical environment, such as installing a ramp into an entryway or adding handrails, but what accessibility really means is designing products, providing services or devices, and altering work environments in order to make your business offerings as useful as possible for those with disabilities. Just as there are many different types of disability, there is a wide variety of potential accommodations available.
Some Canadian jurisdictions have legislative requirements surrounding accessibility standards, and these regulations must be followed, but the benefits of creating an accessible workplace extend beyond compliance. Even if your jurisdiction doesn’t require your business to take accessibility into account, you can and should address accessibility. By demonstrating a commitment to accessibility, your organization can improve access to the business, create a more comfortable workplace, and show customers, employees, and the community that you are committed to inclusivity.
The potential return on creating an accessible workplace includes an improved reputation and brand image, increased customer loyalty, an enhanced employee experience, and better retention of employees. What can you do to provide a more accessible workplace? Download our FREE Improving Workplace Accessibility Guide for tips you can use to modify your recruitment process, customer service, and overall organization.
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