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Workplace Accessibility

  • 2024-05-21
  • Reading time: 9 min.
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Enhancing Accessibility in the Workplace

Millions of American workers have a physical disability that makes it difficult for them to get around1. As a result, employers must seek ways to create a more diverse and inclusive workplace that prioritizes accessibility and accommodates the needs of workers with mobility impairments.

Professionals in the Human Factors Engineering (HFE) field play an integral part in the process, identifying workplace accessibility issues and designing accommodations that help physically-disabled workers achieve their full potential2. The remainder of this article will explore the importance of accessibility in the workplace, and how to create a diverse and inclusive workplace that reflects key HFE principles.

Why is Workplace Accessibility So Important?

Workplace accessibility ensures that all employees, regardless of physical abilities, have equal opportunities to thrive on the job. From a physical perspective, accessibility means creating a work environment that accommodates individuals with mobility limitations, chronic illnesses, and other conditions that may hinder their ability to navigate and engage in the workplace.

As another important consideration, mental and emotional accessibility focuses on creating a supportive, diverse, and inclusive workplace culture where employees feel valued, respected, and empowered to contribute their unique perspectives and talents.

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Physical Challenges that Limit Accessibility in the Workplace

Employees with physical impairments often face these workplace challenges:

Mobility

Employees with mobility impairments may face challenges navigating the workplace and accessing different areas, including meeting rooms, restrooms, and workstations.

Reaching

Workers who have difficulty reaching or stretching may struggle to access items on high shelves, cabinets, or equipment, hindering their ability to perform tasks efficiently.

Lifting

Employees with physical limitations that affect their ability to lift heavy objects may require accommodations or assistive devices to safely perform their job responsibilities.

In addition to the physical barriers of inaccessible work environments, workers with disabilities often struggle with low self-esteem, anxiety, and other negative emotions that affect their well-being and job performance3.

How Human Factors Engineering Promotes Workplace Accessibility

Human Factors Engineering (HFE) is a multidisciplinary field that focuses on designing products, systems, and environments to optimize human performance, safety, and well-being. Within workplace settings, HFE principles can be applied to create inclusive work environments that cater to the diverse needs and abilities of all employees.

Organizations that incorporate HFE design concepts into their workspaces are more likely to create accessible workspaces that prioritize worker productivity, comfort, and well-being – key factors that enhance job satisfaction and performance.

Workplace Accessibility

How to Improve Accessibility in the Workplace

Employers are legally obligated to provide reasonable accommodations for disabled employees under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other relevant regulations4. These responsibilities include modifying the workplace, providing assistive technology, and offering flexible work arrangements to accommodate employees’ needs.

Incorporating HFE design principles into their workspaces is an impactful way for organizations to optimize workplace accessibility. Here are some workplace accommodations you may want to consider:

Work Environment Adaptations

If needed, employers should modify workstations, furniture, and equipment to accommodate employees with diverse needs. Adjustable desks, ergonomic office chairs, mobility scooters, ramps, and handicap accessible elevators are examples of modifications that improve workplace accessibility.

Assistive Devices and Technology

Taking advantage of the latest assistive devices and technology, such as screen readers, ergonomic keyboards, and voice recognition software, can enhance accessibility for employees with disabilities.

Workplace Layout

Designing an inclusive workplace layout with features like accessible pathways, clear signage, and ergonomic seating arrangements can significantly enhance employee navigation and comfort.

As an organization, taking these steps is a reliable way to create a more supportive, diverse, and inclusive workplace culture that benefits employees of all abilities – empowering them to reach their full potential and thrive in the workplace.

See the VELA Independence Chair

VELA Chairs: Setting New Standards for Workplace Accessibility

As innovative seating solutions for workers with physical impairments, VELA chairs have forever reshaped the workplace landscape. For starters, a VELA Chair looks like a normal office chair, allowing it to seamlessly integrate into any work space. Uniquely designed to support the needs of employees with limited mobility and other workplace accessibility challenges, key features of a VELA Independence Chair include:

Streamlined Mobility
An Office Chair from VELA has four, smooth-running wheels that glide seamlessly across most surfaces, allowing users to “walk” or push themselves around with minimal effort. The chair’s narrow profile promotes seamless navigation through tight spaces, making it ideal for crowded work environments. This streamlined mobility empowers individuals with physical impairments to move freely and independently within the workplace, promoting a heightened sense of autonomy and inclusivity.

Enhanced Accessibility
A VELA Chair’s electric lift feature enhances accessibility and conserves precious energy by allowing users to adjust the seat height at the touch of a button, greatly simplifying tasks that require reaching high and low surfaces. The chair’s sturdy construction, robust handbrake, and supportive armrests ensure stability and security, enabling workers of all ability levels to easily access items at different heights, minimizing their risk for accidents or strain.

Superior Ergonomics
Unlike traditional office chairs, a VELA Chair prioritizes a user’s comfort and posture, offering optimal ergonomic support throughout the workday. Constructed from breathable materials, the chair’s padded backrest, armrests, and seat gently hug the body in all the right places. In addition to enhancing productivity, the chair’s superior ergonomics also help promote employee health and satisfaction, creating a more conducive and inclusive work environment for everyone.

Peace of Mind
VELA chairs are well-constructed out of high quality materials, restoring users’ peace of mind knowing they are supported and protected while performing various tasks. This reassurance instills confidence and independence, empowering disabled individuals to fully engage in work activities without limitations. Once engaged, the sturdy brake securely locks the wheels in place. Users can perform various tasks without ever having to worry about their chair rolling out from under them.

Durability and Longevity
VELA Chairs are built to last, making them a valuable addition to any diverse and inclusive workplace environment. Individuals with physical impairments can rest easier knowing they can rely on their VELA Chair as a long-term seating solution, making it a worthwhile workplace accessibility investment for employees and employers!

As an essential part of any “how to improve accessibility in the workplace” strategy, a VELA Chair offers numerous diverse and inclusive workplace benefits. Ready to boost your workday seating experience with the innovative VELA Chair?

Try our chair finder or read more about the VELA Independence Chair here.


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Scott Grant’s Detailed Review

The VELA Independence Chair’s Innovative Design and Workplace Benefits

Scott Grant, the respected blogger behind “Graying with Grace,” has published an in-depth and glowing review of our VELA Independence Chair. In his analysis, Scott emphasizes the chair’s innovative design, exceptional ergonomic features, and its profound impact on enhancing productivity and comfort in the workplace.

To understand why Scott Grant considers the VELA Independence Chair a transformative mobility aid, read the full review here and watch the detailed video review here.