How we choose to communicate makes a significant difference in who our business welcomes, both as employees and clients. That’s why when we rely exclusively on a single mode of communication – whether that’s a traditional phone call or an email – we may be leaving some people out. Embracing a wider variety of communication tools can help diversify the workplace, offering opportunities to a wider range of individuals.
Not only is it a good accessibility practice to use multiple modes of communication so that all parties can fully participate in exchanges, it’s also easier than ever before because of evolving technologies.
Consider expanding your business communication tools with these three technologies and see how your business flourishes.
Transform Your Texts
It’s safe to say that email is the dominant mode of business communication today, but depending on what a message contains and how it’s formatted, these standard messages can be hard for people with visual impairments to access.
Make sure staff members with visual impairments have access to screen reader technology that can read webpages and emails. Also, be careful when sending newsletters, infographics, and even PDFs to staff and clients. These can be harder to read for those with low vision and may interfere with the function of screen readers.
The Power Of The Voice
By now, most people have realized that they can dictate text messages to their smartphones – it’s one of the accessibility tools that are built in to most devices. Additionally, the advent of personal assistants like Siri and Alexa means that more people are becoming comfortable talking to their mobile devices.
Tech tools have normalized dictation and non-telephone voice communication to an extent, but many companies fail to consider that for some people, including those with mobility and vision impairments, dictation is a preferred mode of communication.
Software like Dragon Naturally Speaking provides dictation, editing, and personalization and makes other office-wide technology more accessible. It works with Word, internet browsers, and a range of other tools, performing all the functions one might otherwise do manually.
Hitting The Sound Barrier
There are many reasons that people might not be comfortable communicating by phone. Some employees or clients may be hard of hearing and rely on text and lip reading while those on the autism spectrum – always a part of the tech industry, though not necessarily openly – often struggle with auditory communication. For these individuals, then, the death of the desk phone is a welcome thing and its replacements seem infinitely more accessible for communicating.
Programs like Dialpad can replace business phones by integrating voice, video, and messaging into one simple system, eliminating the need for older TTY systems and offering easier to follow, text-based communication. Such combinations meet multiple accessibility needs at once.
Be Open To Options
Ultimately, if you want to create a more accessible workplace, the best thing you can do is be open to the many options available to your workers in today’s high tech environment. Seek out apps that can bridge the gap between different programs and devices, talk to software companies about their offerings, and consult with employees and clients about how they prefer to communicate. Each person is an expert on their own needs and has a lifetime of experience navigating inaccessible systems.
People with disabilities are both underemployed and underserved as clients because of inaccessible technologies, so take a step towards inclusion and diversity in your workplace by expanding your communication tools.
Diversity makes us stronger – but those with greater access have to lay the foundation and open the doors by offering appropriate tools.