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Creating A More Accessible And Inclusive Workplace For People With Disabilities

Debra Ruh (Forbes)


Many people with disabilities still face significant difficulties in finding employment, despite the marked improvement after the Americans with Disabilities Act was enacted. When they get new jobs, they then may face a workplace environment that is not tailored to their needs and requirements.

Technology can play an essential role in creating an accessible future of work. Rapid developments in assistive technology devices and emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, virtual reality and augmented reality, can help people with disabilities engage in the workplace by creating an accessible and inclusive environment.

Optimal use of these technologies by employees with disabilities can help them thrive, succeed and retain long-term employment. According to Gartner, “by 2023, the number of people with disabilities employed will triple due to AI and emerging technologies reducing barriers to access.”

But are emerging technology solutions available to everyone? Are people with disabilities able to own such technologies or access them in their work environment? 

As someone who helps organizations with disability inclusion, I believe that more companies need to step up and provide better access to worksites and restructure more jobs to suit the capabilities of people with disabilities. Emerging tech does not solve all problems to enable people with disabilities to get employment; companies must develop strategies to promote a culture of inclusion for all staff members. There are many challenges, such as prejudice and lack of social acceptance, difficulty in transportation and providing a comfortable and accessible work environment.

Adopting Remote Work And Emerging Technologies 

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused many companies to rethink their policies on remote work. The availability of home-based work may create more employment opportunities for workers with disabilities since it is often easier to provide flexibility and accommodate different needs. 

The pandemic has also disrupted traditional structures in the workplace, causing employers to rethink solutions using new technologies.

However, we still have work to do. More companies still need to embrace and focus on initiatives that will create an accessible future of work led by emerging technologies. AI and VR, for example, can help companies better integrate people with disabilities into the workplace and support job skills training. And online recruitment platforms can provide people with disabilities with direct access to employers.

In my experience meeting with many of the key actors working in innovative technologies companies, I have found that people with disabilities play an essential role in developing technology that can make work environments more accessible. So, it is important for companies to include them in efforts to create and promote broad technology initiatives.

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