What does your space say about you?
From a quick facial expression to entire languages like ASL, we often communicate without making a single sound. Even our workspace expresses details about us that we may not even notice.
Some details are harmless. For example, with a quick glance around my office you’ll find an Orioles poster, a few photos, and an RIP Lil’ Sebastian mug. You’d be able to easily gather that I love the O’s, I have family/friends, and you might even guess that my mug is from the show Parks & Recreation (or that I am grieving a mini pony). But what happens when our workspaces send a less benign message?
Imagine your workplace from the outside. Are there stairs (or even a single step up) to get to your office? Are you equipped with an elevator? Do you have a sign indicating languages spoken or that you are willing to call in an interpreter? Do you have Braille or large-print indicators on office numbers, elevator buttons, etc.? Do your employees know what to do when receiving a call via relay (don’t hang up!)? If not, your workplace may be unintentionally sending an unwelcome message to individuals with disabilities. In the same way a closed door or headphones might tell you not to bother a coworker, an inaccessible building can tell potential customers not to bother with your company.
But don’t stress, there are easy ways to send a more welcome message! First, look around and think about what your workplace might be saying. Sometimes, we miss really obvious messages just because we pass them every day and they become part of the background. As you find potential issues, write them down. Then, see what can be fixed immediately (a language sign or relay call overview email) and what might take more time (fixing an elevator, adding braille). As we’ve noted in previous #WorkplaceWednesday blogs, good customer service means providing accessibility, and it’s just good business.
Finally, work with your staff or with an agency like HASA to improve accessibility. HASA will even come to your workplace to teach your employees skills like Deaf Awareness or American Sign Language. Use the resources available to you and send a welcoming message in your workplace!
Lauren Albers is the Communications and Community Engagement Manager at HASA.
In Blog section
- Accent Modification, Accent Reduction
- Adult Aural Rehabilitation
- Apraxia of Speech in Adults
- Apraxia of Speech in Children
- Assistive Technology
- Auditory Processing Disorders
- Aural Rehabilitation for the Treatment of Speech Disorders in Children
- Hearing Aids for Children
- Cochlear Implants
- Hearing Aids
- Hearing Loss in Adults
- Hearing Loss in Children
- Hearing Protection
- Language-Based Learning Disabilities
- Speech Sound Disorders
- Traumatic Brain Injury
- Voice Disorders