10 Ways to Make Meetings Easier for Workers with Disabilities Part 1About 15% of the world’s population has some form of disability—about 645 million people are either deaf or visually impaired alone—according to the World Health Organization. While technology continues to dramatically transform the way we live and work, some incredible advancements are also being made to help employers be more accommodating for those with disabilities. These technologies are often simple, easy to implement and either inexpensive or covered by insurance. By embracing these and other accessibility measures, organizations can be more prepared to tap the talents of a large segment of the population that may otherwise have difficulty performing the required tasks. In fact, in the US, organizations are required by 1990’s Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to provide such accommodations, but employers may not know where to start. Meetings, which are especially crucial can also be especially difficult for the visual and hearing impaired. Here are ten tips and technologies that can help make them more accessible:
- Speech-to-text software speaks and enlarges text as it appears on their screen. This works for just about anything a worker might need in a meeting, including email, the web and PowerPoint. Be sure to make presentations available in advance and to give all graphics alt-text descriptors.
- For those who have trouble hearing, video relay services combine a computer with a web camera and a third party sign language interpreter. This is a great enabler for any meeting conducted online.
- The MIT Media Labs has developed a wearable finger device that detects and interprets printed text as the user runs his or her finger over it.
- Many IM apps provide special assistance. Skype provides a screen reader that reads text aloud. The tool can also be configured with high-contrast and magnifier settings that render text easier to read.
- A braille embosser is an “impact printer” that converts text files into hard-copy braille for the visually impaired. With such embossers, users can experience a presentation document and other in-meeting materials.