On 12 March, the Business Disability Forum (BDF) published guidance to help employers improve access for disabled workers.
What Does the Guidance Say?
The first part of the guidance, Access for all – Creating inclusive global built environments, sets out what an inclusive built environment may look like and sets out the importance of creating an inclusive environment for both disabled staff and businesses. It also looks at who to involve in this process and some of the challenges that employers may face.
The second part of the report looks at practical issues to consider when designing a more inclusive and accessible built environment.
The built environment refers to the interior of a building and will include things like entrances, stairs and lifts, lighting, seating areas, offices, catering and bathrooms.
The report suggests that thought should be given to how the people using the building really ‘use’ the environment, and that this must include those with disabilities. This will involve thinking about how easy it is for people to use the desks, the entrances, the toilet facilities and how easy it would be to enter and leave the premises, including in an emergency.
The report encourages employers to consider the whole range of possible disabilities, including not only physical disabilities but also mental health conditions and sensory conditions. Aiming for inclusion in this context focuses on the built environment being able for all people to access and use spaces without specific adjustments being needed on an individual basis.
Why Is This Important?
The report suggests that a focus on the accessibility of built environments of workplaces will help to:-
- attract and retain staff
- attract customers and clients
- reduce costs of high absence rates and high staff turnover
- enable an organisation to become more energy and time efficient
The report gives some useful pointers for those working in HR to consider when thinking about the built environment of their organisation.