Almost four million veterans live with a service-connected disability, which can make it a challenge to perform their best day to day in the workplace. Employers can help out the service men and women working in their offices by taking steps to make the space more accessible to workers with disabilities, including motor, visual, and auditory impairments. Here are some of the best ways that businesses can ensure that their facilities are able to accommodate all of their workers, including veterans with disabilities.
Veterans who use wheelchairs, walkers, or crutches often have trouble safely making their way up and down stairs. Workplaces should install accommodations that give mobility-impaired individuals easy access to all levels of a building. If there are stairs upon entry or exit of an office, employers should place ramps nearby for their disabled employees. For larger sets of stairs, such as between floors, workspaces should have an elevator or lift capable of moving people in walkers or wheelchairs.
Slips and falls can be a serious issue for mobility-impaired individuals, especially older adults. One in four Americans over the age of 65 experiences a fall each year, and complications can be painful or even deadly. One of the best ways to protect disabled veterans from workplace accidents is by installing slip-free flooring in place of materials such as tile, linoleum, or hardwood. You can swap these out for carpeting, or simply lay down textured mats or adhesive strips to give people better traction.
All offices should offer their disabled employees access to a bathroom that’s compliant with standards outlined in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Accessible toilets generally have more clearance room to comfortably fit equipment such as wheelchairs and specially designed fixtures. Some of the requirements set forth include:
If possible, it’s also a good idea to include grab bars for safety. If a workplace bathroom includes showers, it’s best to install walk-in showers with a bench. These are easier to enter, exit, and use for individuals with motor impairments.
Recent advancements in smart technology offer more than just a convenient way to update your shopping list from your couch. Workplaces can take advantage of smart systems to make life easier for disabled veterans in their employ. Voice recognition technology allows workers without the use of their hands or arms to quickly look up data, record information, and control other devices around the office hands-free. What’s more, a smart setup in the office can help to reduce a business’s carbon footprint and overhead costs.
Navigating around the workplace each day can be a challenge for veterans with disabilities. It’s up to employers to make modifications to their office to ensure that it’s accessible to all of their employees. Installing ramps and lifts, laying down slip-free flooring, putting in an accessible bathroom, and introducing a smart setup are all great ways that employers can make their building more accessible to disabled veterans.
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By Lucy Wyndham