A company's commitment to diversity in staff, customers or clients is part of its organizational identity. As such it needs to be expressed and displayed in a statement on the company's website. The policy regarding people with disabilities should be a distinct part of the document.
This document is also available in PDF format here.
Guidelines for formulating a disability policy
In formulating your company's policy regarding the inclusion of persons with disabilities as customers and staff you might want to keep in mind the following points:
Your diversity policy, if you have one, contains explicit references to "persons with disabilities" and includes:
- a brief statement of your goals of and rationale for a disability policy
references to pertinent legislation, if there is one in your country
- the name of the department and organizational level in the organization in charge of the policy's implementation, including name and contact details of the coordinating officer(s)
- a clear description of the due process for grievance settlements
- examples of adaptations and accommodations already implemented
- answers to frequently asked questions, for example, about the level of the company's ambition in including persons with disabilities, its experience in accommodating people with different disabilities and where to get more information
Please keep in mind that access needs differ from person to person. What may be inaccessible to one person, may not present an obstacle to another. An office upstairs without an elevator may not be a problem for a person with a sight or hearing impairment. For smaller organizations finding themselves in this situation rather than not having any disability policy at all we suggest a more pragmatically formulated policy, that includes details about specific obstacles, such as:
"We welcome people with disabilities as employees, trainees and volunteers. Unfortunately our current offices are at the top of several flights of stairs. We encourage applicants with disabilities who are interested in working, volunteering or training with us to contact us in order to discuss their qualifications for the work and the possibilities of improving their working conditions through assistive devices and adaptations of workplace or work routines."
Guidelines for presenting your company's disability policy on your website
Display the disability policy on your website in a manner which reflects the company's priority regarding inclusion of persons with disabilities. This involves ease of navigation, clear and easily understandable language, web accessibility. Easy access should not be limited to the disability policy statement itself or other information of interest to visitors with disabilities but should apply to the company's whole website. For information on web accessibility see for example www.w3.org/WAI .
In displaying the disability policy you might want to
- have no more than three mouse clicks between the company's homepage and the disability policy
- keep the pages with the disability policy updated (at least once a year)
Examples of corporate disability policy web pages
The following disability policy statements are provided as illustrations without judgment:
Disability Self-assessment Checklist for Businesses
Inclusion of persons with disabilities: A self-assessment tool for companies
The following questions are intended as an aid in assessing an organization's ability to accommodate employees and trainees with disabilities. Your answers to these questions will be helpful information for prospective applicants as well for your own periodic internal monitoring purposes.
Does your company have a disability policy and an action plan, as integral part of its general plan, to safeguard equal access for customers, employees and trainees with disabilities regarding premises, operations, products and services?
Does your company have a budget for the action plan, a coordinating office and/or designated officers in charge of its implementation throughout the company system?
Does your company have a budget for making additional adaptations, over and above the general measures, for individual employees and trainees with disabilities? Are there state subsidies available for this purpose? Would foreign trainees have to contribute towards these costs?
- When advertising job vacancies, internships and traineeships do you state that qualified people with disabilities are welcome to apply?
Is your company website fully accessible to people with different disabilities?
Is printed material available in alternative formats?
Are there any way-finding aids (tactile markers, etc.) on the company's premises?
Do the lighting conditions in the various parts of the premises take into account the needs of persons with sight-impairments?
Do the acoustic conditions in the various parts of the premises take into account the needs of persons with hearing-impairments? Are there optical equivalent solutions for acoustic signals, e.g. emergency sirens?
Are qualified sign language interpreters for deaf persons available or can they be recruited? Also for foreign trainees who might need these services?
Can employees and trainees with learning disabilities request that routines, instructions and supervision be adapted to their needs?
Is the air quality in the various parts of the premises suitable for persons with allergies, asthma and substance sensitivities?
In what way does the company's physical environment take into account the needs of persons with physical disabilities such as wheelchair users regarding parking, outdoor pathways, entrances, moving between different floors, hallways, offices, meeting rooms, production and storage facilities, cafeterias, gyms, toilets?
Do geographical distances between different parts of the company require transportation for persons with ambulatory limitations and how is this need solved?
What are the possibilities for trainees with disabilities to obtain suitable housing?
For a more exhaustive and detailed self-assessment tool please see:
"A Manual on Including People with Disabilities in International Development Programs", Mobility International USA , http://www.miusa.org/publications/freeresources/Checklist_for_Inclusion.pdf
Updated: Friday, 11 February 2005, Adolf Ratzka