What Makes a Workplace Accessible?

By Donna Jodhan

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 people 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 rather 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 say that 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. 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 assistance.
- Be able to locate washrooms, elevators, meeting rooms, and cafeterias with minimal assistance.
- Be able to navigate around the cafeteria with minimal assistance.
Of course, someone may think of other things to add to this list, but this is my idea of a completely accessible workplace.
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I'm Donna J. Jodhan your freelance writer and reporter wishing you a terrific day.
If you'd like to learn more about me, then you can visit some of my blog spots at:
(Donna Jodhan! Advocating accessibility for all)
http://www.donnajodhan.blogspot.com
(Weekly Saturday postings on issues of accessibility) http://www.sterlingcreations.ca/blog
(Weekly features on how to increase your success with your business ventures) http://www.sterlingcreations.com/businessdesk.htm

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