Suggestions for inclusion in the workplace

The following are some ways you can meet the needs of employees with specific disabilities.

An employee who is blind or has a visual impairment

•Identify yourself and anyone else with you.

•If you have met before, state the context of the previous meeting to jog the person’s memory.

•If you are speaking in a group, name the person to whom you are speaking.

•Speak in a normal tone of voice.

•Indicate if you are moving from one place to another or if the conversation has ended.

•Clear paths of obstacles.

•Describe the surroundings to advise the person of their environment. For example, say “There is a chair one meter to your right,” or “Step down,” or “The door is to your right,” or “There are some obstacles in front of you on the left.”

•If offering to act as a guide, ask the person to take your arm just above the elbow and walk about a half a step ahead of the person. Then listen or ask for instructions.

•If appropriate, offer to read written information.

•Guide dogs are working dogs: speaking to them or petting them is distracting.

•Plan ahead to allow adequate time to prepare printed material in alternate formats (e.g., Braille, large print, audiocassette or diskette).

An employee who is deaf or hard of hearing

•If securing the services of a sign language interpreter, specify the official language (English or French) required. Ensure that bilingual requirements are met where necessary.

•Speak clearly and at a pace that allows the sign language interpreter to interpret for the person who is deaf and to allow him or her to respond through the interpreter.

•Write notes or use gestures for one-on-one discussions.

•Face the person to facilitate lip-reading. Keep hands and other objects away from your lips when speaking.

•Speak clearly, slowly and directly to the person, not to the interpreter.

•Reduce or eliminate disruptive background noises (e.g., tapping pens or shuffling paper), since amplification devices are very sensitive to ambient noise. Converse in a quiet environment, or move to one, in order to facilitate communication.

An employee with a physical disability

•Rearrange furniture or objects in a room to accommodate wheelchairs, or other mobility aids.

•Avoid leaning on someone’s mobility aid.

•Be aware of what is accessible and not accessible to people who use mobility aides.

•Push someone in a manual wheelchair only when asked.

•Give directions that include distance and physical obstacles. (For example, you might give a location as 20 meters away, or mention that there are stairs or a curb or a steep hill).

An employee with a developmental or psychiatric disability

•Get to know the person so that you can include them socially or organizationally.

•When needed, offer assistance and provide guidance.

•Repeat information when necessary.

•Speak directly to the person and listen actively.

An employee with a hidden disability

Some disabilities can be hidden to others. For example, a person with environmental sensitivities might react to perfume or cleaning products. Someone else, such as a person with diabetes, might have specific dietary requirements. Others might have strong allergic reactions to foods like shellfish or nuts. Others may have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). When an employee has identified a need, ask the individual how one can adapt the environment or the communication approach to ensure inclusion.

Source: Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat — Creating a Welcoming Workplace for Employees with Disabilities

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