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For December 2010:

Workplace Accessibility

How can a workplace be made accessible? Difficult you think?

Not as difficult as you may think. All it takes is for the employer to spend some time trying to understand some of the more important facets of the blind person's world. For example how ta blind person functions without being able to see objects, how they use their canes and guide dogs to get around, how they use their access technology to navigate screens and the internet, and how they interact with others.

These may seem mountainous to any manager who is about to hire a blind employee for the first time but hopefully the checklist below would help you to get a good grasp and get a great start. This checklist is by no means complete so feel free to add to it.

I would hasten to add that an accessible workplace should be viewed mainly through the eyes and ears of the blind employee and that fellow employees and management take their cues from this.

  • Enter the building independently without having to ask for help
  • Find the elevators and be able to locate my desk without help.
  • Be able to log on to my system independently without having to seek help.
  • Be able to locate and read all electronic documents only asking for guidance to know where to find said documents.
  • Be able to access my company's intranet without having to seek sighted assistance.
  • Be able to locate washrooms, elevators, meeting rooms, and cafeterias with minimal assistance.
  • Be able to navigate around the cafeteria with minimal assistance.

Maybe the next time you are a bit uncertain as to whether or not a workplace can be made accessible or anything for that matter, just sit back and think of what the late Steve Jobs did to ensure that mobile devices are made accessible to the blind world; the IPad, IPhone, IPod Touch.

I'm Donna J. Jodhan your free lance writer and roving reporter wishing you a terrific day.
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