Are you wondering how accessible your business or workplace is? Making a business a barrier-free environment is often possible through relatively simple adjustments that allow easy access to, and within, the workplace. Review the questions below to see how barrier-free your workplace is.
Entering the Building
- Are parking spaces for the disabled available near the building entrance and are they clearly marked?
- Is there level or ramp access at the entrance to avoid steps? Are pathways, steps and ramps slip resistant?
- Are there clear directional signs to the entrance of the building?
- Is doorway access wide enough for a wheelchair user?
- Are there automatic door openers?
- Is the location of doorbell or intercom at an accessible height for a wheelchair user? Also, are there visual or other indicators of the doorbell/intercom for people who are hearing impaired?
Reception & meeting room areas
- Are hallways and reception/meeting room areas free from obstructions and roomy enough to allow comfortable movement for everybody?
- Is there a good level of lighting in the reception area, meeting rooms and hallways?
- Could the height of counters and desks cause difficulty for a wheelchair user? Other potential difficulties include the height level of door handles, coat hooks or racks and public telephones. Do you have glass partitions that might obstruct communication with a person with a hearing or speech impairment?
Elevators and stairs
- If the building is multi-level is there an elevator and is it located in an area that provides easy access?
- Does the elevator have floor buttons located in reach of a wheel chair user? Are floor button numbers raised and/or in Braille? Is the elevator audio equipped to announce going up and down and the floor number?
- Do stairways have handrails and adequate lighting?
- Is there sufficient room in washroom areas to allow someone using a wheelchair, a walker or crutches to move around comfortably and free from obstruction?
- Are sinks, hand dryers, towel dispensers, switches, mirrors, etc., at an accessible height for all users?
Signs & Communications Material
- Building signage - for example floor directories, stairway doors, elevators, telephones - should conform with guidelines. Visual graphics can assist understanding for non-English speakers or individuals with limited fluency in English or coping with some learning difficulties.
- Business considerations may require your providing communications in alternate formats such as Braille or sign language. However, use of assistive technology will allow people who are blind or visually impaired to access material you provide in an electronic format. For the deaf and hearing impaired you can provide paper-based communications or use equipment such as a TTY line (text telephone).
Work Space Areas and Equipment
- Work areas should provide ample space for freedom of movement and with appropriate height considerations for office furniture and access to stored files, office supplies and so on.
- Equipment accessibility may necessitate telephone features such as volume control or headsets as well as assistive technology, i.e., devices or software that help a person with a disability or impairment reach full functional capacity. Some examples of high-tech assistive technology include voice recognition systems, voice synthesis, large print display, Braille embossing, and alternative computer input devices such as track-balls, mouse touchpads and switches.