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Free Employer Toolkit

The toolkit offers a variety of informative tools. Learn about the skills people with disabilities bring to the workplace and use our ‘how-to’ resources, that provide practical tips and strategies on successful recruitment, hiring, inclusion and retention of people with disabilities.

COVID-19 Tools

COVID-19 has significantly impacted Canadian businesses, forcing many employers to adapt. The value of diversity and inclusion has never been as important as it is today. Employers seeking to recover from the pandemic will be looking to their teams for resilience and adaptability. Once the world shifts back to normal, businesses that foster an inclusive workplace and hire with diversity in mind stand to benefit the most!

Visit our new COVID-19 tools for further information on how hiring people with disabilities will translate into overall business success after the pandemic.

COVID-19 Tools

When accessibility is overlooked, people get excluded. Given that people with disabilities are the fastest-growing minority group on the planet and that 1 in 5 Canadians identifies as having a disability, accessibility is no longer optional: it’s a business survival skill. Trends in federal and provincial legislation speak to the increasing importance of business accessibility for workers and customers.

COVID-19 has highlighted our ability to use technology for remote work. While this strategy benefits us all during the pandemic, it is particularly useful for including workers with disabilities.


Accessibility and Technology

Accessibility is an important feature of inclusion: it allows workplaces to build adaptability, resilience and recovery capacity during COVID. A number of disabilities can influence the ‘user experience’ when it comes to using technology, digital platforms and tools. They include:

  • Visual (e.g., vision loss, colour blindness)
  • Motor/mobility (e.g., spinal cord injury, cerebral palsy)
  • Auditory (e.g., hearing difficulties)
  • Learning/cognitive (e.g., dyslexia, autism)

Accessible technology has built-in accessibility features that can be used by a wide variety of people in different ways, without the need for any other devices or technology.

Assistive technology involves the use of special devices, tools or equipment that help workers to overcome barriers and limitations. Examples include screen readers, text-to-speech applications and ergonomic devices that make standard tools easier to use. Assistive technology often provides better solutions that are widely used. Examples include:

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Digital accessibility is a critical element of product design and the user experience. Most accessibility features required by users are already built into their products at no additional cost.

Both PC and Mac platforms have extensive, user-friendly accessibility features. These platforms also offer helplines and learning sessions that workers or employers can access. The relevant features include tools to address disabilities such as vision or hearing loss, hand mobility, neurodiversity and mental health.

The two most common virtual meeting platforms used during COVID-19 (Zoom and Microsoft Teams) also have extensive accessibility features that can be used to create inclusive meetings and workplaces. Both platforms provide accessibility learning sessions and assistance for users.

Assistive technology (AT) is an area in which resources and consulting may be required in order to identify the best options for employees with a disability. Consideration may also be given to choosing options that work best with the employer’s current technology platforms. Fortunately, there are excellent resources across Canada to help workers and businesses navigate AT selection and implementation.


Inclusive Technology and Best Practices

During the COVID-19 public health crisis, the shift to remote work is proof that this ‘workplace accommodation’ is reasonable, effective and inclusive. As your business explores the use of accessible technology during COVID-19, simply extending the use of existing employee platforms to minimize any additional stresses and impacts on your teams is a noteworthy best practice.


Here are some important strategies and tips:

  1. Assess workers’ access and user knowledge regarding any technology they may require to communicate and perform while working from home.
  2. Create a plan to close any gaps in technology access and/or user knowledge.
  3. Choose technology and communications channels with which workers are familiar and which include robust accessibility features.
  4. Leaders should demonstrate patience and flexibility as workers familiarize themselves with new technology.
  5. Collect online resources or tutorials to build worker capacity with remote work technology.
  6. Ask for and document suggestions and feedback around remote work strategies to strengthen your response, resilience and recovery.


Employer Responsibilities and Remote Work

  • Adjustments should be made to duties and tasks to ensure that they can be safely carried out at home.
  • Workers should have the right equipment and tools to work safely at home, including the required protective or safety equipment, as applicable.
  • Arrangements should be made to ensure the company’s equipment, if taken home, is accounted for and returned in good condition.
  • Workers should have relevant information, instruction, supervision and training to deal with unforeseen situations while performing remote work.
  • Reasonable accommodations should be made for individuals with disabilities to work from home.
  • Arrangements should be made for workers’ physical and mental welfare.

(From the Employer’s Guide on Working from Home in Response to COVID-19 – ILO)


Physical Spaces and Accessibility

While remote work solves a variety of challenges around physical accessibility, Canada’s population continues to age and the number of individuals with disabilities is increasing every year. Business accessibility increases your market share: making it a priority now will help your business thrive over the long term.


Mindset Matters

  1. Make ‘access’ an ongoing question in your workplace. “Is this accessible/Who might this exclude?” Examples include equipment and workstation purchases, meeting platforms, technology, work processes, policies events, social media posts and language.
  2. Enlist resources and support. You don’t need to be an expert but you may need to access other people’s expertise.
  3. It is very important to create space for discussions about ‘how well we are adapting and working together’, as well as being open to hearing what could be improved.
  4. Accessibility should be viewed as an investment, not merely an expense. An accessible business attracts a larger client base and talent pool.


There is federal funding available to help make your workplace more accessible. Visit Hire for Talent’s Programs and Funding page to learn more.



Sources

  1. ”Employer Toolkit.” The Conference Board of Canada, Employers Toolkit–Accessible Employment Practices–The Conference Board of Canada. Accessed 16 December 2020.
  2. “What is Digital Accessibility?” YouTube, uploaded by Deque Systems, May 17, 2018, What is Digital Accessibility? – YouTube.
  3. “When we design for disability, we all benefit.” YouTube, uploaded by TED, August 16, 2016, When we design for disability, we all benefit | Elise Roy – YouTube.
  4. “Do more: the social media accessibility check list.” UX Collective, Do more: the social media accessibility checklist | by Soren Hamby | UX Collective (uxdesign.cc). Accessed 16 December 2020.
  5. “A Complete Overview of Canada’s Accessibility Laws.” Siteimprove, A Complete Overview of Canada’s Accessibility Laws (siteimprove.com). Accessed 16 December 2020.
  6. “Product and service for everyone.” Microsoft, Accessibility Technology & Tools – Microsoft Accessibility. Accessed 16 December 2020.
  7. “Accessibility.” Apple, Accessibility – Apple (CA). Accessed 16 December 2020.
  8. “Accessibility.” Zoom, Accessibility – Zoom. Accessed 16 December 2020.
  9. “Accessibility overview of Microsoft Teams.” Microsoft. Accessibility overview of Microsoft Teams – Office Support. Accessed 16 December 2020.
  10. “COVID-19: Resources to help you quickly transition to working and training remotely.” TalentLMS, COVID-19: Resources for working & training from home – TalentLMS Blog. Accessed 16 December 2020.
  11. “What Are the Four Major Categories of Accessibility?” Bureau of Internet Accessibility, What Are the Four Major Categories of Accessibility? (boia.org). Accessed 16 December 2020.


Physical Accessibility Resources

  1. 1. “Enabling Accessibility Fund.” Government of Canada, Enabling Accessibility Fund – Canada.ca. Accessed 16 December 2020.
  2. 2. “Accessible Employment Practices.” The Conference Board of Canada, Accessible Employment Practices – The Conference Board of Canada. Accessed 16 December 2020.


Assistive Technology Services and Advice

  1. “AT Support.” Neil Squire, About Neil Squire Society – Neil Squire Society. Accessed 16 December 2020.
  2. Hearing Foundation of Canada, hearingfoundation.ca | A National Non-Profit Organization. Accessed 16 December 2020.
  3. “Services Providers.” Hire for Talent, Services – Hire for Talent. Accessed 16 December 2020.
  4. “Canadian National Institute for the Blind.” CNIB, cnib.ca. Accessed 16 December 2020.



Disclaimer:

Hire for Talent has made every effort to use the most respectful words possible while writing these materials. We realize, however, that the most appropriate terminology may change over time. We developed these materials with the intent to respect the dignity and inherent rights of all individuals.



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Facts & Stats

Growing your business requires the ability to attract talent in a shrinking market. Workplaces with a diverse, healthy, inclusive culture are becoming employers of choice.
Hire for Talent is focused on workers with disabilities because this talent pool, and the support services attached, have profound impact on workplace inclusion.
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Canada’s projected worker to retiree ratio will be 2:1 within 15 years. Recruitment from diverse talent pools will be essential!
The inclusion of people with disabilities generates measurable improvements in performance, innovation and company image.