Removing barriers in your workspace for disabled people
The social model of disability holds that people are disabled by their environments rather than any limitation in their capabilities. Barriers are found in the physical environment; in people’s attitudes; in communication; in how institutions and organisations are run, and societal discrimination. Removing these barriers leads to equality, independence, and choice for people with physical impairments.
An inclusive workplace works for everyone. Going beyond compliance, spaces welcome and enable a more diverse workforce and make it suitable for any visitors with disabilities. By providing solutions that accommodate all, segregation is avoided. People can focus on their work without having to draw attention to themselves by requesting special assistance. Designing with inclusivity, future proofs the workspace since current employees’ circumstances may change, temporarily or permanently.
Removing Barriers to Participation and Communication
This is not an exhaustive list but a starting point for conversations about simple changes that can make a big impact. We welcome feedback and suggestions to improve on this.
Height adjustable desks are an effective way of encouraging movement throughout the day but also provide options when a standard height desk is not suitable. If all or a bank of desks are height adjustable then wheelchair users, for example, are not limited to a designated desk but can make use of a hot-desking system.
Including multi-height surfaces in communal areas such as kitchens, toilets and at reception makes them accessible to all users.
There are often times when people need quiet space to focus, to eliminate noise and distraction. Meeting booths and pods are a flexible way to add focus space and some are designed with wheelchair access in mind.
Tech Free Zones
Providing a non-stimulating, calm, respite space is helpful for people with a low sensory threshold. But, all team members will benefit from having a refuge from a busy workspace when needed.
Round tables allow everyone to face each other making lip reading easier. It’s always important to ensure that there’s sufficient space around tables for accessibility.
Keeping furniture flexible means it can be adjusted, stacked or removed to accommodate different needs. Add a variety of types and sizes of seats, with and without armrests, and leave plenty of accessible space.
Ensuring that power points are easy to reach rather than in awkward positions under desks or in the centre of a large meeting table will make it easier for people with limited mobility.
Flexible monitor arms can be adjusted to individual needs but also make it easier to share a screen with a colleague.
Inclusive Design Overlay
In July 2023 RIBA published their ‘Inclusive Design Overlay’ to provide guidance on implementing inclusive design. A collaborative study, it brought together design professionals from across the built environment to create a resource for best practice. The intention, to design spaces where everyone feels welcome, safe, and valued. In addition, an accessible space is also crucial for sustainability, since it is used more efficiently, and is more adaptable for different users and uses.
Specialist furniture and assistive technology
Our team of furniture consultants can help advise on FF&E solutions that support a well-designed inclusive office space. In some circumstances, even within an inclusive office, individuals may need more tailored solutions to ensure comfort at work.
- Task chairs for reduced function
- Colour coded or braille keyboards
- Anti-glare screens
- Assistive listening devices
- Arm and Leg supports
Contact us firstname.lastname@example.org for help in creating a workspace that is inclusive for all.