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The WTIA Diversity Equity and Inclusion Center of Excellence and Apprenti are working together to transform workplaces by focusing on disability inclusion, dismantling barriers to access, and building a strong and diverse talent pipeline that includes individuals with disabilities. To promote the retention and advancement of people from diverse backgrounds, we continue to develop solutions to create more equitable and inclusive workplaces.
An important part of our work is creating opportunities for learning about the experiences of employees with disabilities. In 2022, the U.S. commemorates the 32nd anniversary of the American with Disabilities Act, the groundbreaking law that ensured that people with disabilities have the same rights and access to opportunities as everyone else. While the breadth of disability inclusion is wide, we wanted to devote this post to the experiences of people who are blind and visually impaired. We draw upon the expertise of Apprenti’s Access Team to present best practices for creating an inclusive work environment.
Visual impairments are one of the most common disabilities among adults. About 12 million people in the U.S. age 40 and older have a visual impairment.1 In the age of hybrid work, the probability of working alongside a colleague with a visual impairment at some point during your career is high. Even though visual impairments are more common than most think, many feel uninformed about best practices for interacting with someone who is blind or visually impaired. While every individual is unique and may have their own preferences, we outlined best practices for communicating with a colleague who is blind or visually impaired.
Introduce yourself, surroundings, and visuals in presentations.
Communicate in multiple formats.
Allow extra time and describe gestures in conversations.
Be mindful of everyday idioms.
It’s okay to make mistakes. It is better to try to include someone and make errors than be inaccessible and exclude people. Seek feedback from all participants – don’t just single out those with vision impairments – about how you can better meet their access needs in future meetings. Ultimately, you will learn best by collaborating with your colleagues who are blind and gain a new perspective on your work.
If interested in learning more about ways to integrate disability inclusion practices into your organization, the Apprenti Accessibility Team is hosting upcoming workshops as part of WTIA DEI COE programming. Stay connected via the WTIA events page or the DEI COE site.
1“Fast Facts of Common Eye Disorders.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, June 9, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/visionhealth/basics/ced/fastfacts.htm#:~:text=Approximately%2012%20million%20people%2040,due%20to%20uncorrected%20refractive%20error.