Creating an Accessible Office & the DDA Act
Have you heard of the DDA act and how it works? If not, then you’ve come to the right place. If you’d like to learn more about how the DDA affects your workplace and make your office disability-friendly then read on!
Most companies understand their office layout and environment have a direct impact on the wellbeing and ability of employees to work at an optimum level. When an office is in line with the DDA, then it can quickly become one of the most productive places!
We’ve put together some information about the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) and how it affects employers and employees who have disabilities. We also discuss how to make your office more welcoming for everyone.
What is the Disability Discrimination Act?
The DDA is an Act of Parliament that was passed in 1995. The act ensures people who have disabilities are not discriminated against for having a disability. The DDA defines a disability as “a physical or mental impairment, a specific learning difficulty or health condition that has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on a person’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.”
The DDA is important in the workplace. Employers must ensure their working environment and practices are right for disabled employees’ needs. Once arrangements have been made, disabled employees are expected to do each day.
Employee Welfare manages the rights employees have to services and extra help. This makes people with disabilities live comfortably and manage their work with less trouble and stress. These may include:
- Suitable holiday hours
- Payment of travel expenses
- The ability to take maternity or sick leave
How to Include Disabilities in the Workplace
The DDA is not only limited to employees who are physically handicapped. It also refers to those who are intellectually and educationally challenged. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), disabilities are not just a health problem, but a complex issue that reflects the interaction between the person’s body and features in the culture and society where they live.
The WHO reported that about 15% of the world’s population are people who have disabilities. That means about one billion people are dealing with these issues.
In addition, while the DDA was created to help people with disabilities in the workplace, the fact is there remains a problem with these people enjoying the rights and job opportunities the act was made to protect.
The unemployment rates for persons with disability (PWD) have remained almost unchanged for many years. The reason is that companies believe employees with disabilities cost more and are less productive than their healthy colleagues. However, employees with disabilities can be a huge advantage for the companies they work for.
Many people with disabilities face discrimination in the workplace. The fact is their valuable ideas and perspectives are ignored by the companies they work for. However, companies end up missing out on the values employees with disabilities bring to their work.
Businesses that develop equality policies, on the other hand, benefit from the insights and experiences of employees who have disabilities. These companies support employees who have disabilities, too.
Employees who have disabilities are usually highly skilled and talented! They have various skill sets and talents that they can bring to a company.
Encouraging More Equal Industry Standards
When equality policies are put into place, allowing bringing more people with disabilities into the workplace, companies can then encourage other businesses to do the same. Not only does this help employees and people with disabilities, but it also means the company is a positive example in the community.
Your business can also create a PWD-friendly workspace by giving equal opportunities to people who deserve to be employed. These are people who may have faced neglect and rejection in the past. However, they deserve much better than this. Here are some ways to improve disability inclusion in the workplace.
1. Educate Yourself & the Staff
The first place to start is by educating yourself and the employees. The workplace must include the devices and technology people with disabilities need. For instance, if you hire those who have hearing and speech issues, then learning hand and sign languages is an excellent place to start.
2. Make the Office Design More Accessible
It may also be necessary to redesign the office to make it more accommodating for the physical needs of disabled employees. For employees with wheelchairs, you may want to install ramps and other devices to make getting around easier. And employees can be trained to offer assistance if such assistance is needed.
3. Create Support Groups
Another way to help disabled employees is to create support groups. These are not just for the disabled, but also for those who are not disabled. Support groups create a safe space where everyone can come together to discuss issues and find a way to work together. Support groups can also report on improvements and changes needed to help employees who have disabilities.
4. Revise Company Policies
It may also be necessary to revise a company’s policies, as disability laws can change. Disability laws can also vary based on where you live. When making changes to the company policies, it’s a good idea to first ensure your policies comply with the DDA.
DDA Building Regulations & Compliance
When designing the layout of your office or workspace, it’s a legal requirement under the DDA to make the building accessible to people who have disabilities. It’s a good idea to have an accessible workspace, even if you currently have no employees with disabilities. At some point, you may have visitors or clients who need access to disabled facilities, such as a toilet.
The DDA also requires “reasonable adjustments” be made for all employees who have disabilities. This can mean offering a different workspace that’s more appropriate to be made for employees. These may include physical adjustments that can be made to create a different workspace that’s more appropriate or even allow time off for doctor’s appointments and treatments.
Physical adjustments can also be made to the office, such as:
Walkways are wide enough for wheelchair users, ramps, and lifts where there is no stair access.
Disabled toilets also need to be provided for employees, visitors, and clients. An alarm system should also be installed, along with needed supports and additional space.
Adjustments for employees who have sight or hearing impairments. For instance, these employees may require a hearing loop installed on the premises, or instruction manuals to be copied in braille or large print.
Summing It Up
It can take quite a bit of work to make an office more easy and open for people who have access problems. The goal is to create a welcoming and inclusive environment in the office that follows the DDA and fulfils all the regulations and requirements. Including those with disabilities in the workplace only makes it better and provides employees with the means to be happy and comfortable in the workplace.
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