How To Adapt Your Workplace For Employees Who Use Wheelchairs

 

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Disclaimer: You must be aware that this post applies to a certain type of people (depending on their conditions).) Some employees who use wheelchairs may not require accommodations to their space to perform their work-related duties. Others may only require a small number of these accommodations in order to perform their job. These tips are not the only solution available to adapting a workplace for employees. Here are a few important ones.

 

Questions You Should Ask Yourself...

Which accessibility methods does the employee need when at work?

What accommodations are necessary for the employee to be comfortable and productive?

What potential accessibility technology would help improve their workplace health and reduce problems with limitations?

Have you asked the employee about potential and available accommodations they recommend or require?

What specific work related tasks are limiting the employee as a result of such limitations?

If the workplace has been adapted for disability, has the employee reviewed and verified that such actions are enough for their comfort and production at work?

Do co-workers require specific training regarding wheelchair users at work?

 

Activities of Daily Living for Wheelchair Users

People who require their wheelchairs to be used at their job, may need personal assistance when they are on the clock. An employer is not responsible for providing personal assistance, but there are instances where an employer may be held accountable for certain accomodations to enable an employee who is a wheelchair user. Some of their personal care needs may include:

  • Allowing an employee to bring a service dog to work.
  • Allow an employee to take mandatory breaks for bathroom needs, grooming, or chair repositioning.
  • Allow a flexible schedule for the employee and allow sick leave for periodic and immediate medical attention.
  • Allowing the employee to bring a personal caretaker to work to assist with their personal needs.

Workplace Accessibility

Wheelchair users may encounter certain situations where they are limited in the workplace. These are examples of such situations and potential adaptations to the workplace:

  • Personal writing aid for those who cannot write themselves.
  • Office computers and machinery, like a copy or fax machine, should be accommodated for a lower height. This will allow the wheelchair user to use the equipment without any hassles.
  • Office supplies should be within reach of a disabled individual. Installing ground level accessible shelves and cabinets will assist in accommodating those who need it.
  • This should go without saying, however, accessible or height adjustable desks and/or tables for an employee who cannot sit comfortably at a conventional desk is a must.
  • Filing cabinets should be accessible for employees who require such needs, more so if the employee uses the filing system constantly throughout their day.
  • Some employees may require a voice activated phone and a specialized-disability phone that comes with large buttons. Some features include an automatic voice mail system and/or audio headset if need be.
  • Computer hardware that allows the employee have alternative access to computers and computer accessories. Some accessories include a trackball mouse, speech recognition software, and specialized keyboards.

Workplace Schedule and Late Arrivals

Often times, people who require wheelchairs in their workplace may be late. They can experience obstacles that may hinder their ability to get to work on time. Therefore, accommodations to their commute and transportation methods may be necessary.

  • Tele-commuting could be an option for a person who has trouble and encounters obstacles on their way to work.
  • Accessible doorways and wheelchair ramps to allow a smooth transition from the entrance to their personal work desk.
  • Having accessible amenities such as  handicap accessible restrooms and break rooms is a necessity.
  • "Handicap Only" parking space should be a feature of your building.
  • Schedule should meet their commuting needs, depending on whether they can drive themselves or if they use public transportation.
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