With workplaces set out to become more inclusive, it is mandatory to address the elephant in the room. According to a report released by the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment-population ratio for persons with a disability increased from 18.7% in 2017 to 19.1% in 2018. This clearly indicates a rise in a more powerful and diverse workforce. It brings out an important aspect which is the need for people to be more conscious and aware of how to interact with colleagues who are differently abled. While some people might not know how to interact with blind people (about which we had written earlier), some others might not know how to interact with blind people in an office or professional setup. Here are some tips that we believe will come in handy.
How to work with a Visually Impaired colleague:
- Introductions: Everytime you are joined by your visually impaired colleague, make it a point for everyone in the room to introduce themselves. Helps the person to get a sense of who is attending. It might take the individual some time until they become familiar with your voice but these instances will help them. Basic courtesy demands that you let them know when you’re leaving the room or meeting so that they don’t talk end up talking to themselves.
- Meeting Preparation: Be mindful and share documents or written pieces of information, which are to be discussed in the meeting, in advance with them. It might not be possible for them to familiarize themselves with the contents of the documents in one glance or refer to points being discussed.
- Layout Change: It might be exciting and fun to revamp your office space or add a little zest by bringing in new furniture and decorating corners with plants. This is not a great idea if you don’t inform your colleagues and take their inputs into consideration. The way they maneuver around in a new space is calculated. Keep in mind that they might prefer less change in a relatively new environment.
- Assistive Technology: While you might not be familiar with the available tech that can help low vision or visually impaired people, you should research about these devices and facilitate access for them. You may even consult your colleagues to understand what they need to get the job done.
- Break your mental barrier: The most important and biggest challenge is to break your mental barrier and assumptions about their ability in a workplace. They are as efficient as a sighted person if not more. They are more than capable of completing tasks as required.
We are sure that an inclusive workplace will open up great opportunities to learn from their experiences and perspective. For this to happen, you only need to have an open mind-set and compassion towards your fellow human beings. Do you have more suggestions on how to work with a visually impaired colleague? Don't hesitate to write to us!