Workplace Accessibility, Inclusion and Why Not To Rely on Free Tools

Published February 26, 2021

Offering more diverse workplaces and seats at the table to individuals with disabilities, among others, opens the door to hiring more talent and also helps with employee loyalty.

When employees witness their employer further investing in diversity initiatives, they’re more inclined to stay and feel connected to the business’s goals. For example, 83% of all millennials are said to be more likely to be actively engaged if they believe their company stimulates a diverse and inclusive culture.

Verbit is partnering with many businesses to offer them cost-efficient accessibility tools needed to attract and retain more diverse talent. While many companies were previously relying on free, automated tools, they found that equity and accessibility were not being provided effectively. While the employee experience was of course of great concern, company leaders also found themselves fearful of lawsuits.

Why every business should take note

Creating accessible workplaces and offering employees assistive technologies is not only the right thing to do for your workforce; it’s required. It’s also more critical in the new world of remote work.

Employers, specifically those who employ 15 or more individuals, are required to make accommodations and provide assistive technology software and solutions to meet the disability needs of not just employees, but applicants up to the point that they cause undue hardship on the business.

Assistive technology helps professionals with disabilities by providing them with equitable opportunities to succeed at their jobs. For example, providing accessible employee training videos is required by Title I and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

To adhere to ADA requirements, businesses should aim to ensure their accessibility technologies are providing the highest level of accuracy possible — typically 99%. Skimping out on paid tools, which are often not even that costly, can often end up costing your business much more if faced with a lawsuit and all the backlash it entails.

Business professionals must be aware of equity requirements and do everything they can to meet them.

Disclosure of disabilities & creating an open environment

It’s important to note that it is the employee's responsibility to disclose their disability and request their employer's help. While some physical disabilities are more visible, many disabilities — hearing loss, dyslexia, ADHD — are not able to be detected without disclosure. Some employees choose not to disclose their disabilities out of fear for repercussions or perceived shortcomings

"The last thing I ever want to do is have a meeting and then not be subtitled or not be captioned, or not be communicating in a language that someone can hear me," said Ashley Brundage, the VP of Diversity & Inclusion at a US corporation.

Therefore, offering technologies like captioning upfront or enlisting ways to promote them so that employees know that they exist and are available to them is typically the best course of action. Tools like captioning also greatly help with the engagement of all employees, especially while they are remote and on web conferencing tools like Zoom.

Technology, such as Verbit’s tools built on AI, are specifically designed to help meet these needs and requirements.

"From captioning to texting to screen readers, you name it, all of these things are really powerful in ways to create that inclusive environment, and make people feel like they’re welcome and that they’re going to be a part of the team," said Brundage.

Offering assistive technology in the workplace is necessary to meet ADA requirements, foster an inclusive culture and help employees succeed with equitable opportunity. When employees don’t need to specifically ask for these items, but have them provided to them when a business is able, they will be grateful.

There's no such thing as a free lunch

Free accessibility tools should be viewed as band-aid solutions. The accuracy isn’t guaranteed and flaws can be embarrassing. The ideal is to use a tool based on AI, for quick immediate turnaround and live functionality, that is then fact checked by human editors. This dual method is what sets technologies like Verbit’s apart.

For example, London Business School often conducts business interviews with CEOs from around the world. "If the transcripts are inaccurate or the closed caption is inaccurate, it’s very embarrassing for the faculty member and for us as well, so using Verbit gives us the confidence to say to faculty, 'This is accurate,'" said Sushil Pallen, LBS’s Learning Innovation Manager.

There is a full spectrum of accessibility technology available to businesses, which requires organizations to do their homework. However, this research will make for happier and more fulfilled employees who are provided with equity when offered tools with guaranteed accuracy.

Other companies such as a video-survey provider Verbit works with were previously using free tools and editing the inaccuracies or creating transcripts by hand. This manual process of editing and transcribing was costing them significant hours and resources. Automating the process with a partner like Verbit will therefore not only guarantee more accuracy, but save businesses from tedious and unnecessary time which can be well spent elsewhere.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (PDF) has yet to release 2020 statistics, but in 2019, 19.3 percent of individuals with a disability were employed. The employment-population ratio for individuals without a disability was 66.3 percent. While unemployment decreased overall, it declined by 3.5% for individuals with disabilities, meaning businesses are taking note.

Implementing workplace accessibility solutions

Businesses can now improve their workplace accessibility and make meetings and offices more inclusive in a variety of ways:

  • Transcription software for note taking and meetings recording
  • Live and closed captioning software for events, business training and online courses, which is often critical to prevent lawsuits
  • Word prediction software
  • Speech recognition and voice control
  • Information management and communication software for scheduling, alerts, reminders and more
  • Noise cancelling headphones and/or audio enhancing headphones

Verbit is cost effective and can help businesses scale by efficiently handling their accessibility initiatives, meeting ADA requirements with 99% accurate captions and transcripts of meetings and helping them to foster more inclusive cultures.

Additionally, many of Verbit’s tools, as well as additional accessibility technologies designed to help those with disabilities are now helping entire populations of employees. Employees are now able to perform their jobs better, engage clients and have reference materials from meetings in the form of auto-generated transcripts.

For example, captions and audiovisual translation software can help organizations which are global to better understand each other and communicate more effectively. Transcripts of notes from meetings which are generated by Verbit automatically can help employees to focus on the conversation rather than need to scribble everything down quickly to remember it.

With this reality in mind, business leaders can rest assured that their investment in the needs of employees with disabilities can often help their entire workforce to function more effectively.

Verbit is happy to get in touch with business professionals who are interested in making their environments more accessible or who need guidance on how to do so. Email marketing@verbit.ai for more information.

Verbit

Verbit's vision is to provide a technology that fuels a world where all media shared in classrooms, workplaces and online platforms are inclusive. Verbit is dedicated to providing universities and businesses with the tools they need to make all video and media accessible to all individuals.

Learn more about Verbit

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