Much can be said about happiness and maximized productivity in the workplace. Working with coworkers on projects and deadlines does not have to be daunting or cumbersome. The following tips can assist employees in managing their on-the-job productivity and lending their talents. Likewise, employers can best engage their employees and teams to feel empowered by working closely and cohesively while being genuine and authentic to the needs of all in the workplace.
Be open and communicative about your vision and access needs.
Let your colleagues know what kind of assistance you need and how they can best support you. For example, you may occasionally need them to read documents, describe visual information, or provide human guide assistance. Likewise, ask them how you can support them and your mutual work projects with your skills and talents. That way, everyone is contributing while leaning into their strengths. Concurrently, a cohesive and friendly manner is being embraced in the work environment.
Be proactive and take initiative.
Do not wait for people to come to you. Instead, reach out to them and introduce yourself. Attend team events and social gatherings. Volunteer for projects and committees. There may be a staff appreciation event and/or a company community event that calls for volunteers on an evening or for a Saturday commitment. Often these are simple opportunities to lend a hand and genuinely and authentically give of your time, talent, and self.
Get to know the team at work.
Learn about colleagues’ interests. This will help you find common ground and make conversation. Ask them about their hobbies, families, and travel experiences as meaningful ways to initiate conversation.
Be an active listener.
When someone is talking to you, give them your full attention. Make eye contact (to the best of your ability) and nod or smile to show that you are listening. When possible, join an after-hours work team walk, run, or activity that takes you and your coworkers into the community. There is nothing stronger and more rewarding than team building.
Communicate with care.
Avoid hot topics at the water cooler or lunch table. Politics, religion, and workplace gossip will likely not get favorable responses from colleagues. Converse on safe topics such as last week’s ball game, weather, what you’re making for dinner, or film or theater performances on your watch list.
Be positive and enthusiastic.
A positive attitude is contagious. People will be drawn to you if you have a positive outlook on life.
Remember, it takes time to build relationships. Be patient and persistent. Eventually, you will develop strong relationships with your colleagues and create a supportive and inclusive workplace.
Other quick ways to meaningfully engage on the job include:
- Attend networking engagements. They’re perfect for meeting new people and learning about different work and community opportunities.
- Join professional organizations. Connect with people in your field and stay current on industry trends.
- Volunteer time and expertise. Give back to the community and meet new people.
- Find a mentor by reaching out to people you admire and respect. Send them a LinkedIn message or email to let them know you want to learn more about their career.
- Be helpful and supportive, leaning on each other. Offer to help your colleagues with their work or give them feedback on their projects.
- Be yourself. People will be drawn to you if you are genuine and authentic.
Adopting many of these tips will build strong relationships with your colleagues and create a successful career path.
Employers can create a more inclusive workplace for people who are blind or low vision or have other disabilities by doing the following:
Accommodations may include providing braille or large print materials, modifying workstations to accommodate guide dogs or mobility aids, and providing training on how to work with assistive technology.
Provide disability awareness education.
This can help to create a more understanding and supportive workplace environment. Employers can provide training on challenges faced by people with disabilities and how to interact with and support them. But, always ask the person with the disability what they may need.
Create a culture of inclusion and respect.
This means valuing all employees, regardless of their abilities or disabilities. Employers can do this by promoting diversity and inclusion initiatives and creating a workplace where everyone feels welcome and respected.
Specific tips for creating a more inclusive workplace for people who are blind or low vision include:
- Make sure your workplace is physically accessible. Accessibility includes having unobstructed walkways, ramps, elevators, and accessible restrooms, and clearly marked in braille and raised print and meeting rooms.
- Offer accessible technology. Technology includes screen readers, braille displays, and other emerging assistive technology devices. Employers should also ensure that their websites and software are accessible to people who are blind or low vision.
- Use inclusive communication practices. This means describing visual information in your communications, such as images and charts during presentations. It also means avoiding ableist language, such as phrases like “visually impaired” or “handicapped.”
- Be supportive and understanding. Remember that people who are blind or low vision may need extra time or assistance with specific tasks and/or may perform essential work duties differently.
- Be patient and willing to help, and do not be afraid to ask what accommodations may be needed. Most accommodations are likely to be inexpensive to implement.
Employing these tips can make a workplace more accessible and welcoming for all, thus creating a more inclusive workplace, allowing all to thrive.
In addition to the above, employers can also create a more inclusive workplace for people with other disabilities by doing the following:
- Provide flexible work arrangements. This may include permitting employees to work from home, have flexible hours, or take breaks when needed.
- Offer employee resource groups (ERGs). ERGs are employee-led groups that provide support and networking opportunities for employees with shared interests or experiences. ERGs for people with disabilities can help create a more inclusive workplace culture and support employees with disabilities.
- Partner with disability organizations. Disability organizations can provide employers with resources and support to create a more inclusive workplace. They can also help employers to connect with job seekers with disabilities.
By taking these steps, employers can create a workplace where all employees feel welcome, respected, and valued.