Accessibility in the workplace
Accessibility in the workplace
Remote and hybrid work environments make it easier for workers with accessibility needs to participate in the workforce fully. They also allow organizations to tap into an important and highly skilled talent pool.
Key organizations across North America have taken note. The Government of Canada, for example, has publicly committed to becoming a world leader in barrier-free, inclusive workplaces and services. To that end, it has implemented an Accessibility, Accommodation and Adaptive Computer Technology program (AAACT).[i]
Furthermore, the Accessible Canada Act[ii], which applies to all sectors, requires that organizations create inclusion policies that include the following:
- Reasonable accommodation
- Accessible technology
- Assistive technologies to promote a barrier-free Canada
Those who fail to do so could face a fine of up to $250,000.
Leading Modern Workplace brands like Microsoft are also making a conscious effort to help people overcome barriers and to expanding accessibility to technology. The company has committed to actively promoting the development of accessibility tools, innovating to give everyone the ability to achieve more, and levelling the playing field.[iii]
Here are just some highlights of what Microsoft has to offer to make the workplace accessible to all.
Microsoft Surface adaptive kit
The Microsoft Surface Adaptive Kit, released in Fall 2021, is a simple, low-tech solution created with the help of partners and occupational therapists.
The kit consists of stickers and labels in various shapes to easily identify keycaps, ports, and cables and a lanyard tab to help open and close the device with one hand.
The experience of the individuals receiving and using the Surface Adaptive Kit was also carefully considered. The packaging is engineered to be easy to open, and the kit includes an applicator to make applying keycap labels easier.
Built-in accessibility features
Surface devices also have many built-in accessibility features to address varying ability levels.[iv]
Some features for those who are visually impaired include:
- Colour filters for improving visibility.
- Voice commands using Tell Me to access applications, commands, and shortcuts easily.
- Device functions that can be completed without using touch or a mouse
- Office Screen Reader for Windows to narrate what is written on the screen.
- Innovative audio-based technology, Soundscape, uses 3D audio cues to enrich ambient awareness and provide a new way to relate to the environment and enable people to build a richer awareness of their surroundings.
For those who are hearing impaired, features include:
- Presentations with real-time captions so everyone knows what the meeting is about.
- Autogenerated subtitles for videos
- Visual push notifications so that users do not have to rely on auditory signals
There are also numerous features for those with neurodiversity and mobility issues. They include:
- Focus Assist to block alerts and notifications so the user can focus.
- Text suggestions for sentence construction to help people with dyslexia.
- The ability to type with your voice using Dictate.
- The ability to use a PC with just your eyes using innovative eye-tracking software.
Microsoft is not alone in working to make the workplace more accessible. Dell, VMware and many other brands have committed to making Canada and the rest of the world more accessible.
Many solutions already exist to address a range of accessibility issues, and there is a lot more on the horizon. The transition to the Modern Workplace provides an opportunity to experience how technology removes barriers.
Want to know more about how you can make your workplace more accessible?
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