December 3rd was International Day of People With Disabilities (IDPWD) – so let’s talk about how we can become more inclusive, both online and in person.
First off, I would like to talk about reasonable adjustment, which is making small adjustments for people who need it. To learn more about reasonable adjustment check out the NHS or Health and Safety Executive websites:
Now let’s get in on how to make your company more accessible!
On your website
Ensure you use clear and readable fonts and colours
Making sure your font is a good size will help people read if they struggle to see or have issues with reading, like dyslexia, learning disabilities or neurodivergence. Using a readable font is so important! There is a font made specifically for people with dyslexia, called Dyslexie (learn more about it here: dyslexiefont.com) as well as some more “standard” fonts that are also friendly like Ariel, Century Gothic and Comic Sans.
Using certain colours together (usually reds, oranges, browns and greens) can be really hard for people with colour blindness or vision problems.
Include Alt Text in images
Alt Text is basically a short description of the image for those hard of sight. It describes the information your image is conveying. If you were to describe a signed book on your website it would go “Picture of a book entitled Lord Of The Rings. It has a signature on the cover.” or an image of a cat asleep on a sunny window sill could say “photo of a cat sleeping in a sunbeam”. You have to remember a program (usually called a screen reader) might be reading it out loud to the person browsing your website.
If you have videos or audio on your website adding captions will help people who are HOH*, deaf or even have learning difficulties! This also applies to your social media, Instagram and TikTok actually have an auto caption option!
Check whether your site displays well on mobile devices
Some people cannot use computers and laptops so they use mobile devices, checking your site displays well is super important.
In a building
A ramp or accessible entrance is a must. It’s not just getting to the door, it’s getting through the door then going around the building. Is there clutter or shelves blocking the floor? Can they fit through the door? Check out the gov website to see all the different accessibility measurements here: UK gov inclusive mobility
Do NOT touch or talk to service dogs
Talking to or petting service dogs can distract them, putting the handler at risk. The best thing to do is just ignore the dog.
Talk to the person
If there is a group of people and one happens to be disabled, treat them like anyone else. If they are paying, asking about something or needing help talk to them, not the people they are with. If you are trying to create accommodations then ask the person who needs them what they need and what would make them comfortable.
Making sure your bathrooms are clean and accessible means so much to people with disabilities (and everyone else too!). An accessible bathroom for people with stomach or bladder issues who are having an emergency is often overlooked. Making sure there is enough room for accessibility aids is critical.
Talking slower and making sure that your voice is clear makes you more understandable to those who have may have issues understanding words, people who lip read or those with audio processing issues. This does not mean talking at the speed of a cartoon sloth or like they are a child. It just means don’t speed talk and be clear. In today’s world, try and also be mindful on Zoom/Teams, making sure people watching you on screen, can read your lips.
Mask wearing and sanitising
If people are immunosuppressed, they’re more likely to get sick and it’s more dangerous for them. Especially in these Covid times, it’s important (and courteous) to protect one another from illness. Remembering to mask and sanitize can help protect.
There is still much that needs to change to make the world more comfortable for those with all types of disabilities, but these small changes could mean the world.
It’s also important to note that you cannot tell who is and isn’t disabled – not all disabilities can be seen.
* HOH -Hard of hearing