Enabling Inclusive and Accessible Workplaces Requires an Open Mind

July 2015

Despite the numerous efforts by employers to create an inclusive and diverse workforce, many work environments still remain inaccessible for persons with disabilities, presenting both physical and attitudinal barriers.

Reasonable accommodation is a solution which readily answers the subject of accessibility in the workplace with the aim to reduce the impact of the impairment on a person’s capacity to perform the essential functions of the job. Reasonable accommodation further gives organisations the opportunity to successfully integrate people with disabilities into their workforce as well as offering a broader perspective on people and skill opportunities for business.

This is according to Julia Wood, Organisational Development Manager at Progression and Project Coordinator of the 2015 Disability Conference. This year’s conference theme will aim to explore tools, technologies and systems for reasonably accommodating people with disabilities in the workplace, thereby facilitating an inclusive and diverse workforce.

“The 2015 conference aims to empower delegates with the necessary tools to implement sustainable reasonable accommodation strategies in the workplace,” says Julia. “Most importantly, we want delegates to walk away with a broader understanding of reasonable accommodation and how it can be approached as a solution to unlocking people and skill potential in the workforce.”

The Disability Conference, running for its 4th year, is a collaboration between disability and skills development experts, Progression, and diversity and transformation training consultants, TDCI. “Each year the Disability Conference further expands on the management of disability in the work context,” explains Julia. “Delegates walk away empowered with tools and a transformed perspective on integrating persons with disabilities into the workforce.”

The topic of reasonable accommodation will be unpacked over the course of two days with speakers from Mircosoft SA, Microlink PC South Africa, eDeaf, Progression and SABC. Each speaker will share their own expertise as they guide delegates through the social context of reasonable accommodation, assistive technologies and devices, software adaptations in the workplace and how to approach reasonable accommodation solutions by exploring the limitations and abilities of the individuals involved. “One of the aims of the conference is to ‘break’ some of the misconceptions that exist around what reasonable accommodation involves, as this can act as a barrier to employing people with disabilities. There are so many possibilities for integration,” states Julia.

The conference will also see Architect and Universal Design Expert, Hiten Bawa, and Occupational Therapist and Environmental Audit Practitioner, Keshika Naidoo, provide delegates with insight and considerations to environmental accessibility and design. Delegates will be empowered with the tools to conduct their own environmental audit, the first step in assessing potential barriers that might exist in the workplace.

The 4th annual Disability Conference is ideal for organisations wanting to enable an accessible working environment and is ideal for HR and EE managers, Transformation specialists, Health & Wellness Practioners and CEO’s.

“Disability needs to be approached with a ‘business as usual’ attitude,” states Julia. “Reasonable accommodation gives organisations the opportunity to successfully integrate disability into their workforce, creating a truly inclusive environment in which all individuals can grow and participate.”

 For more information on the conference, contact Julia Wood julia@progression.co.za.

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