Blind people can be as effective as sighted people, yet they still experience social exclusion – both in job interviews and the workplace itself. Whether you work with someone who is blind or are thinking of hiring someone with a visual impairment, consider these tips for workplace inclusion.
Identify Everyone in the Room.
Before a meeting begins, ask each person to identify herself, so that a blind employee will know who is in attendance and approximately where each person is sitting. If someone enters or leaves the room mid-meeting, acknowledge this with a brief mention so that everyone understands who is still present.
Make Communication Easier.
There are simple things you can do to make information more accessible at work for blind coworkers. In addition to bringing hard copies to a meeting, send electronic materials ahead of time to ensure your blind colleague can read the material. Use a Word document format unless you have the ability to tag a PDF, adding descriptive text that is understandable by screen readers. If you are presenting, verbally describe any charts, tables, images or props aloud so everyone can follow along.
Ask About Accessible Technology.
Many people who are blind need only a few simple accommodations to adapt their workspace. They usually bring their own devices to work. Ask your blind coworkers what they need to get the job done.
If you overhear colleagues making disparaging comments about a blind coworker or marginalizing them in any way, don’t ignore it. Speak up and let them know their behavior is not acceptable. If it continues, tell your manager. Remember to invite all staffers to fun social gatherings. If you post flyers for social events, remember to share them verbally.
Make your employees aware of the Americans with Disabilities Act and include a statement about being an equal opportunity employer on your internal communications and external job postings.
Train Your Team.
Give your hiring managers and recruiters the tools they need to attract, interview and onboard qualified candidates with disabilities. This free online course will empower your employees to create a culture of inclusion that attracts new customers, clients, and candidates.