AFK's Top 3 Reasonable Adjustments for the Workplace

AFK's top 3 reasonable adjustments for the workplace

Reasonable adjustments are changes that can be made in the workplace to make the environment and work processes more accessible, reducing the effect of a person’s difficulty or disability, allowing them to do their job with minimal barriers.

 

When most people think of accessibility, their first thoughts are about physical accessibility: ramps and lifts. True accessibility in the workplace goes far beyond that, and is often much easier to put in place!

 

AFK has been working closely with a growing network of employers for two decades to provide meaningful job opportunities to young people with physical and learning disabilities and autism spectrum conditions.

 

In that time, we’ve learned a lot about what makes a workplace more (or less) easy to navigate for the young people we support. The great thing is – most of these changes cost little or nothing at all, but often have a huge impact on every single member of staff, as well as customers, clients and other stakeholders.

 

So here are our Top 3 Reasonable Adjustments for the Workplace, all of which cost little to nothing to put in place but can make a world of difference to all your staff.

1. Clear signage

blue exit sign on a brick wall

Clear signs and notices make a workplace easier to navigate for everyone who steps through the door. We all remember what it was like on our first day of work, or school, not knowing where anything was and perhaps feeling too nervous to ask. Having key areas, materials and other information clearly displayed allows everyone to be more confident and productive in a workspace.

 

A few tips: Have signs at wheelchair level – not everyone looks up – and make sure the signs are large with high contrast text in a simple font. Use a dark print on a light background for optimal visibility and readability. Again, the proper use of colour makes the world of difference – have large signs too. For bonus points, add colourful directional arrows on walls or floors as appropriate – these help everyone find what they need.

2. Colour coding

multicoloured labels

Everyone loves a bit of colour coding, but it’s underused by so many! It’s a simple yet powerful change that makes everyday tasks so much simpler and more productive for ALL staff. Colours bring environments to life but they also have their place with everyday paperwork. Using colours make it easier to define different areas of work and can help if you’re tired and looking for something quickly, as well as assist those with visual impairments.

 

Some buildings already have different colours for different floors where they use a colour block near the lift area or an ongoing stripe around the walls. We used the example of a hospital above. Hospitals use clear signs and colour coding really well, because the designers of these spaces know that when you’re in a hospital (either as a patient or a visitor) you’re more likely to be experiencing stress, which makes it harder to think about where you are or need to go. We’re sure even the staff appreciate the help of colour coded floor signs when they’re finishing a long shift!

Real world example: colour coding in the post room

 

One of our young trainees worked in the post room of a large corporate office building. As part of their role, they had to identify where each person is in the building and which floor they were on from a book. This book was in very small print, had names crossed out several times with new names and looked worse for wear after being in constant use.

 

Our team suggested the company reprint the book (easily done as the names were all on a computer) and that the font should be a minimum of 12, but preferably 14, as this was in line with making it accessible for all. We also suggested they use a colour block at the end of each line of information to correspond with the different floor colours we had noticed.

 

The managers and staff liked the idea and were only too pleased to redo the book. They also laminated each sheet to prevent any scribbling over it or sheets getting torn, and it was easy enough to just print another sheet out if need be. It not only made our trainee’s job a lot easier and more efficient, but all the staff liked this change and started looking for other opportunities to use colour coding in the office to make jobs easier.

3. Simple language

Two young men sitting at a laptop

Simple language is key, for both written and verbal communication. Here are some of the most important things to remember:

  • Stick to simple sentences and vocabulary
  • Use a simple font with a minimum font size of 12 (or preferably 14, which greatly improves readability)
  • Avoid acronyms unless absolutely necessary, and if you need to use them then have a key handy
  • If you talk quickly, you will need to slow down a little. Often a trainee with learning disabilities or autism will nod politely to a helpful staff member who was talking at speed, but when asked afterwards, they don’t remember or understand what was said as it was too fast.
  • Ask one question at a time, check understanding, then move onto another question. Take your time and have the young person write key points down too – though not everything, as you want them to exercise their memory as well!

We hope this list gives you some food for thought on how to make your workplace more accessible for all.

 

If you have any questions or would like additional support from our team, please email info@my-afk.org or call 020 8347 8111 and ask to speak to Elaine Harman, our Life and Work Manager.

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