As COVID-19 continues to impact all of us, it is expected that a majority of the workforce will be asked to work from home. Telecommuting or working remotely isn’t a new concept but it isn’t really built for everyone. If your company asks your team to work from home, know that there are several things that you should consider and that includes ensuring you’re still compliant with the American with Disabilities Act (ADA).
How do you that? Below are some practical tips that might be helpful in staying ADA compliant while working remotely.
1. Equip your workforce with the right tools necessary for them to work from home.
You may consider short-term rental of additional laptops, printers, cellular phones and other tools or gadgets important for an employee’s role. When specific adaptive equipment is necessary for a person with disability to perform his/her task, you will be responsible for providing this, too, unless it would cause undue hardship towards the company. Usually, this would only require the provision of glare screens, larger computer monitors, zooming and transcription software, captioned video conferencing programs, and computer screen readers. Note that you’re free to allow your employees to use their own devices but you have to greatly consider the cyber-security risks. Another option you can consider is the reimbursement for home-based equipment used for temporary telecommuting due to a pandemic.
2. Have a clear discussion of the limitations, requirements and duties related to telecommuting.
Never assume that your employees with disabilities cannot meet the same performance standards as your non-disabled employees. Don’t change the production standard, whether quantitative or qualitative. Remember, the process of terminating and promoting employees must be the same across your entire team. But given the sudden change in workplace set-up, there may be limitations to be considered. Discuss in detail any ADA-related requests or concerns prior to setting up a home office for your employee.
3. Make virtual meetings more accessible to employees with disabilities.
You can do live captioning if you have attendees who are hearing impaired. Opt to use visuals like photos, charts and graphs to ensure those with vision impairment can still participate. Also, make sure that your video conferencing software is also screen reader-friendly.
4. Check that your collaboration tools are ADA compliant.
You have to be certain that videos and documents shared by the company are accessible to all employees, and that any messaging platforms provide keyboard accessibility, screen reading and live captioning functionality. Consider using products that include color accessibility and alt text for all images as well. Other types of software to consider are ones that automates processes and collects and organizes information and forms digitally. Script helps you become ADA compliant by requiring data labels and other ADA-specific characteristics.
Providing your employees with an ADA-compliant remote workspace isn’t very easy but it is not impossible. It is attainable and can actually have cascading effects to help other employees. With just a little extra effort, you can provide an accessible and ADA-compliant remote workspace for every member of your team and at the same time create a positive work atmosphere that is accommodating to all.