With as much as 15 percent of the population having disabilities, many workplaces have employees with learning disabilities. With planning, policies, and appropriate practices, employers can accommodate the needs of workers with disabilities. In turn, workplaces will benefit from the diverse thinking and problem-solving skills these workers bring to their jobs.
Whether you are an employee, small business owner, or manager of a large company, these tips will help you manage disabilities effectively on the job.
Accommodating Disabled Workers
- Develop personnel policies clarifying how the workplace will comply with federal and state Equal Employment Opportunity and Americans with Disabilities Act regulations;
- Seek guidance from a small business administration, chamber of commerce, or state business licensing agency in developing policies;
- Appoint an administrator to oversee disability issues in the workplace. Ensure the administrator receives training in legal obligations and company grievance policies; and
- Train employees in policies, and post them in an accessible place, such as in a break room.
Disabled Workers May Need Modified TrainingDisabled Workers may not tell their employers. Plan training assuming learning disabled workers will be included. Provide adapted materials for everyone. Examples:
Disabled Workers Need Training Options
- For auditory learners and dyslexic trainees, provide speakers for training presentations;
- For tactile learners and trainees with language deficits, provide more hands-on training and fewer written instructions when possible;
- Most learners, especially visual learners, benefit from visual models and demonstrations,
- Trainers should be available for questions and clarification at all times to ensure participants can get immediate instruction.
Professional Learning Communities May Help Disabled WorkersDisabilities at Work - Establish the expectation that learning is ongoing, questions are expected and encouraged, and that all staff is expected to support each other in their work and safety.
- Ensure good general safety by providing supervision for all employees;
- When possible, encourage team problem-solving and reward those efforts;
- When teaching new skills, model them and observe employees as they demonstrate mastery; and
- Provide more assistance when teaching skills, and gradually decrease the level of support as employees master the task.