Amplifying Access: Collective Engagement in the Creation of Accessible Workplaces  

By Alex McLean

CHHA’s new employer training program, Amplify Access, highlights the importance of accessibility for a productive workplace. The program provides employers with the tools necessary to develop a sustainable accessibility framework for an inclusive environment. For deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals such as myself, this initiative is much-needed, providing employers and employees with the knowledge and skills necessary to advance accessibility in the workplace.  

As a deaf person, I have had many different workplace accessibility experiences. Although my previous workplaces conveyed their commitment to accessibility in policy documents and promotional materials, there was a gap between the acknowledgement and application of accessibility practices. 

While most organizations are happy to provide accommodations, the onus should not be on the disabled person to advocate for an accessible workplace. Self-advocacy is a valuable skill, but it can be exhausting having to carry the burden of accessibility. True accessibility can only be realized through collective workplace advocacy and engagement.  

Accommodation statements, while necessary, are a passive form of accessibility. Passive or “open door” policies” contribute little to the development of reciprocal working relationships. In order to foster a truly accessible workplace, it is important to have ongoing conversations with employees, and actively seek out their opinions and ideas.  

One of the ways in which organizations can effectively apply an accessibility framework is by incorporating principles of universal design. During the interview process, employers can utilize universal design principles by providing a written copy of the interview questions, and if possible, conducting a virtual interview on a platform with built-in captions. On orientation day, it is helpful to provide a written copy of relevant information, including presentation slides and presenter notes.  

Through its interactive educational platform, Amplify Access allows employers to foresee the application of useful accessibility strategies. Each module explores different levels of accessibility from interpersonal interactions to workplace infrastructure. They provide detailed descriptions of communication tools to enhance workplace accessibility. Highlighting one area that is covered in the course content, assistive devices such as hearing loops and personal amplifiers play an important role in bridging communication gaps.  

However, devices themselves cannot ensure true accessibility. It is important to consider environmental factors such as background noise alongside the physical office layout. Background noise reduces speech clarity, and crowded spaces prevent listeners from focusing on the person speaking.   

By incorporating multiple accessibility strategies into the workplace, this will fairly distribute responsibilities, and help create a smooth transition for deaf and hard-of-hearing employees. Remember—accessibility is a collaborative project! 

Read more about Amplify Access here.


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