5 Ways to Improve the Workplace for Neuroatypical People

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Workplaces today are held to a certain standard of accessibility. Components of barrier-free establishments may include escalators, elevators, accessible parking spaces, wide entrances, and doors, or easy-to-open doors in high-traffic areas such as restrooms. These crucial measures play a role in creating equal and fair access for Neuroatypical people with reduced mobility, endurance, dexterity, or physical functioning.

Though, a lot of disabilities are not apparent to the naked eye. Anxiety, mental health disorders, chronic pain, visual impairment, speech impairment, learning disabilities and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can affect how a person lives in its environment. In fact, 22% of people in Canada 1 have some form of disability, either physical or invisible Neuroatypical people. That’s over 6 million people! Likewise, more than 500,000 young people with invisible disabilities will turn 18 in the next decade. This means that employers who do not invest inaccessible work practices risk losing potential talent.

What is Neurodiversity?

When it comes to creating an accessible workplace, neurological disorders are often the hardest to predict. Therefore, it is important to implement practices that are accessible to everyone, regardless of the abilities of the people concerned. Neurological differences Neuroatypical people, or neurodiversity, are simply different ways of working, thinking, behaving, and experiencing the environment.

Here are five easy ways to foster workplace inclusivity and accessibility to foster neurodiversity and empower everyone to thrive, whether virtually or in person.

Workspaces for people sensitive to light or noise

We know how unpleasant it is to sit under artificial desk lamps for eight straight hours: headaches and eye strain are not uncommon. In people with neurological differences Neuroatypical people, these symptoms are often intensified. In fact, research shows that over 90% of people with ASD 2 may have a lower tolerance to external stimuli, which include artificial and bright lights. Here are some reactions and symptoms of light-related sensory overload:

To help people focus, relax, and stay productive, businesses can create a more comfortable environment by doing the following:

  • Prioritize natural light and reduce fluorescent lights.
  • Create designated spaces or low-light meeting rooms.
  • Streamline the workspace to reduce visual distractions and clutter, such as that caused by exposed office supplies or distracting party decorations.

Noise is another common environmental stressor. It’s true: an open office can promote collaboration and creativity while eliminating some hierarchical barriers Neuroatypical people. However, it also creates noisier environments. Low tolerance for excessive noise can lead to the following:

Whether it’s a friendly conversation or construction noise, how people react can vary greatly. Although some Neuroatypical people with neurological differences may have a higher tolerance, others may have severe sensitivities Neuroatypical people. That’s why one-size-fits-all office design is unlikely to support everyone’s mental health and productivity. Instead, consider having a variety of spaces in your workplace:

  • Create enclosed spaces or workstations that provide more privacy.
  • Set up some open spaces for silent work and others for collaborative work.
  • Use glass walls or dividers to isolate noise without compromising the open design.

Accessible technology

With more and more workplaces adopting a hybrid or fully remote model, technology accessibility is more important than ever. To encourage clear communication between teams working remotely, video conferencing services have become non-negotiable for most organizations.

The expression “videoconference fatigue” is now entrenched in our vocabulary. These are the consequences of prolonged videoconferencing, which include the stress of prolonged periods of sitting, intense eye and facial contact with other participants, and high cognitive load 3. The latter can be particularly difficult for people with neurological differences. Unlike real meetings and interactions, video conferencing forces us to work harder to communicate. For example, we must actively show that we are concentrating, while simultaneously interpreting and sending nonverbal cues and gestures (thinking about making exaggerated head or eye movements or smiling exaggeratedly).

The intense focus required for video calls can quickly become overwhelming. Here are some ways to make the experience more accessible:

Use polling tools to get feedback instead of asking participants to gesture or speak. It can also help people who have lost focus or are out of the moment.

Offer live captions for people who may have difficulty concentrating while just listening. It can also allow them to focus on something other than faces.

Provide external accessories, such as a wireless mouse or keyboard, so people can create distance between themselves and their screen. This can reduce intense eye contact and help anxious people feel less overwhelmed.

Inclusive meeting practices

Meetings, virtual or in-person, can be a challenging environment for people who experience stress, anxiety, or neurological differences. In fact, 43% of employees with anxiety disorders say they tend to avoid attending meetings. Here are simple ways to make your meetings more productive, more accommodating, and more stimulating.

Schedule meetings

Notifying attendees earlier and setting aside time in their schedules makes it easier for them to prioritize their well-being. This can be useful for people who manage childcare or need to schedule medical appointments. It may also help people with anxiety disorders or neurological differences get more control over their routines.

Attach an agenda for the meeting

Provide an outline of the meeting agenda as often as possible. Tell people what to expect and what is expected of them. This allows the team to prepare for the meeting and avoid feeling like they’re being thrust into the spotlight or being weighed down by a perceived lack of focus or focus.

Rethinking virtual social events

Hybrid and remote workplaces often take advantage of virtual meetings to socialize and build relationships. While it’s a great team building tool, it can be stressful for many people. People who suffer from social anxiety may find the context daunting: real-world interactions allow groups to break into more intimate conversations adhd therapist near me, while a virtual environment usually requires a larger group to listen to one Neuroatypical people. Similarly, unstructured conversations and brief discussions can be difficult for people with ASD 5. Consider making social events optional or implementing a clear structure for the event so people attending can gauge the level of engagement required

Establish camera usage practices

While face-to-face interactions can help make virtual meetings more human, they can also be stressful and exhausting. In fact, a recent study found that cameras are a leading cause of video conferencing fatigue, more so than the number of hours spent in meetings 6. Several factors cause mental and physical fatigue during meetings. One of them is how we present ourselves. The way we look at the camera and the way we seem to communicate can be a source of worry for many and affect engagement and productivity. Here are some ways to make your meetings more inclusive and less stressful:

  • Allow people to keep their cameras disabled if they wish.
  • Avoid asking why someone’s camera is off.
  • Host meetings where all cameras need to be turned off.
  • Add a note to the meeting agenda to indicate whether the videoconference will be with cameras enabled or disabled.

Flexible work policy

There are benefits to everyone working the same hours, such as increased opportunities for collaboration and a clear separation between work and personal life. However, it can be difficult for some to keep to strict schedules. People who are experiencing mental health issues may need flexibility with their appointments and therapy. They may also feel more energetic and productive outside normal hours. Similarly, some people with ASD have an ability to hyper-concentrate 7, which means they can maintain deep concentration on tasks for long periods of time. The option to manage their own hours can help people stay motivated and work more efficiently.

Core Wellness Benefits

A benefits package that meets the needs of your staff plays an important role in increasing productivity and supporting overall well-being. By choosing a set of widely available benefits, you can ensure that team members use them and really benefit from them. Here’s how Dialogue’s health and wellness services prioritize accessibility and inclusion:

Virtual consultations

Dialogue ‘s mobile and desktop app allows people to virtually consult with physical and mental health professionals from the comfort of their own home. For employees who don’t have the ability to travel to appointments or who don’t feel comfortable in different spaces, this means managing wellbeing may still be a priority.

Flexible Mental Health Program

Dialogue’s mental health program provides access to a variety of mental health services that meet people’s unique needs and unique comfort level. Members who experience anxiety or are hesitant to talk to professionals can practice self-help family therapy near me using clinically proven toolkits. Others can consult directly with practitioners to develop a treatment plan that works for them.

Accessibility Commitment

Dialogue fully complies with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (W3C WCAG 2.0 Level A, WCAG 2.0 Level AA) and is accessible to everyone. What does it mean? The Dialogue website and app meet an internationally recognized accessibility standard. Here are some ways our app is inclusive for as many people as possible:

  • Our application is accessible by keyboard navigation for people with reduced mobility.
  • Text-to-speech software is available for members who are visually impaired, so messages can be read and typed in verbally.
  • Ensure sufficient color contrast on images, buttons, background gradients, etc., and provide additional information that does not rely on color perception.
  • Make sure the interactive elements are easy to spot.
  • We ensure that all fields have a descriptive label adjacent to the field.
  • When it comes to form submissions, we alert members when something is wrong by sending them an easily trackable message.

Make accessibility a priority

People with physical or neurological disabilities in Canada are mostly unemployed or underemployed. In fact, over 600,000 people 8 remain unemployed due to a lack of inclusion and accessibility. In addition, 83% of people with ASD 9 are unemployed despite having the potential to work. With increased awareness of mental transformation health issues, learning disabilities, autism spectrum disorders, and other neurological differences, organizations that don’t prioritize accessibility best practices risk falling behind.

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