Now that the world of remote working has opened up, more employees are discovering the benefits of working from home. For people living with disabilities, remote work offers myriad opportunities, such as the ability to do their job better or even the ability to work at all.
Remote work as an accessibility option
With the flexibility remote working offers, it’s easy to see why it’s a valuable option for people with disabilities. Remote working offers many benefits, such as the ability to manage surroundings and routines. Using their existing equipment and any home adaptations for many employees is beneficial and valuable to you as an employer, as you may not have to pay for expensive adaptations.
Is remote work considered a reasonable accommodation?
According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), changing work location can be viewed as a reasonable accommodation. Reasonable accommodations can include many things, such as providing equipment, accessible toilets, remote working, or flex-time.
Accessible remote work equipment
As an employer, it’s worth knowing in advance the types of equipment your employees may ask for if they are working remotely with a disability. Employees may request a range of accommodations, such as flexible working hours, standing desks, auto-captioning software, screen readers, or speech-to-text software. Some employees may also require an adaptive computer mouse or phone. Neurodiverse employees may benefit from noise-canceling headphones or visual search engines.
Who needs remote working for accessibility?
Many employees require accommodations for remote working, and you’ll find them across a wide range of disability types.
- Hearing loss and deafness: employees living with hearing loss or deafness often find remote working beneficial due to the removal of background noise, lower levels of exhaustion caused by listening fatigue, and more. Nevertheless, remote workers with hearing loss may have difficulties accessing virtual meetings or calls and may require auto-captioning software or alternative communication methods.
- Visual difficulties and blindness: employees with visual disabilities may also benefit from a quieter office, especially if they rely on a screen reader or text-to-speech software.
- Neurodiversity: neurodiverse employees may request remote working due to needing the ability to control their routine and surroundings or work in less stimulating places, amongst other things.
- Mental health and chronic illness: employees with mental health conditions or chronic illness may find flexible work schedules useful, as well as the ability to work from home. Working from home is also helpful for employees with bathroom accessibility requirements.
- Physical disabilities: people living with physical disabilities might find it easier to work from home, as they can use their existing adaptations.
Remote working can be an asset for businesses, especially for employees who live with disabilities. As always, employers should work closely with their employees to identify modifications and accommodations that provide each individual the most effective way to perform the essential functions of their job.
Accessibility.com is proud of our role in promoting accessibility and equal access while recognizing there is much work to be done. In response to the overwhelming interest in AccessibilityPlus 2021, and in celebration of National Disability Employment Awareness Month this October, Accessibility.com has extended conference capabilities to include more participants, insider free tickets are still available. For more information about the conference, speakers, and topics, please visit our AccessibilityPlus registration page.