As we know, assistive technology can be a vital tool for improving accessibility in the workplace and website accessibility. But what are the key benefits of assistive tech?
We previously wrote about what assistive technologies do, but we wanted to dive a bit deeper into some of the main benefits of assistive technology at work.
Throughout this guide, we will discuss why assistive technology is so important in the modern workplace, and take an in-depth look at who can benefit from using it and exactly how.
Why is Assistive Technology Important in the Modern Workplace?
Assistive technology is important because it helps to level the playing field for employees with disabilities. It can help them to stay in employment and be productive members of the workforce with fewer barriers. Further to this, the World Health Organization states that assistive products maintain or improve an individual’s functioning and independence, thereby promoting their well-being.
In the modern workplace, employers need to offer support to employees with disabilities. With the fast-paced nature of work today many people with disabilities are left at a disadvantage. Assistive technology and services related to it can help to reduce this disadvantage, by making it easier for them to access information and perform their job tasks effectively.
Assistive technology can be used in a number of ways, from simple tools and adaptations to more complex computer systems. It is important to remember that not all assistive technologies are high-tech – sometimes the simplest solutions can be the most effective. Some common examples of assistive technologies important to the work environment include:
These are just a few examples – the type of assistive technology used will be different for each individual, depending on their specific needs.
(Dolphin SuperNova Enterprise — With SuperNova Magnifier and Screen Reader)
Who Can Benefit From Assistive Technology Products?
First and foremost, the right assistive technology can benefit employees on many levels, especially those with physical disabilities. Assistive technologies, such as hearing aids, communication devices and literacy equipment, can improve the functional capabilities of their service users, and this in turn can lead to improved communication and work performance.
Other devices, such as wheelchair ramps and Braille keypads, provide employees with physical disabilities the ability to navigate the workplace more easily and safely.
Assistive technology can also benefit employees who suffer from conditions that cause fatigue, such as multiple sclerosis. By using an adaptive keyboard or mouse, employees with MS can reduce the amount of time they spend resting their hands and wrists, which can help them stay productive for longer periods of time.
Employers also reap the benefits of having assistive technologies in the workplace.
One key benefit for employers is that assistive tech allows businesses to meet formal health and safety requirements. In the UK, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) requires employers to make reasonable adjustments to the workplace to accommodate employees with disabilities. This includes making sure that employees have access to appropriate assistive technologies.
Not only do assistive technologies help employers meet their legal obligations, but they can also help employers save money. For example, by providing employees with ergonomic keyboards and mice, employers can reduce the risk of work-related injuries, which can lead to costly workers’ compensation claims or fines for non-compliance with health and safety regulations.
In addition, assistive tech can improve employee productivity, which can save employers money in the long run, especially if absenteeism is a problem in the workplace. When employees feel supported and are able to work more effectively, they are less likely to take time off work, which can help businesses save money on lost productivity. We’ll take a closer look at some further employer benefits in the sections below.
People Living With Disabilities
From a wider perspective, it’s important to note that assistive technologies can also benefit people living with disabilities, even if they don’t use them in the workplace.
Assistive technology is at the centre of supporting disability employment, stated parliament as far back as 2018. When global organisations focus on building a culture of accessibility in the workplace, it can have a positive impact on the way employees with disabilities are perceived in society. This, in turn, can lead to improved social and economic inclusion for people living with disabilities.
Within your business, you can take things one step further by making sure your products and services are accessible to people with disabilities. This not only benefits the people who use your products and services, but it can also improve your brand image and boost customer loyalty. You can also invest in Workplace Disability Awareness Training to promote this inclusive culture.
The Key Benefits of Assistive Technology at Work
Another key benefit of assistive technologies is that they can improve employee productivity. To better support people with disabilities, many assistive technologies have been designed to help users work more efficiently.
For example, an employee who has difficulty using a standard keyboard can use an ergonomic split keyboard, which can help reduce discomfort and fatigue. Similarly, an employee who has difficulty using a mouse can use a trackball mouse, which can improve accuracy and precision.
In addition, many assistive technologies come with features that can help users work more quickly and efficiently. For example, screen-reading software often includes features that allow users to navigate documents more quickly, while speech-recognition software can be used to dictate emails and reports.
Better Workplace Communication
One of the main benefits of having assistive technologies in the workplace is that they can improve communication between employees, whether they have disabilities or not.
An employee who is blind or struggles to read can use a screen reader like TextHelp Read & Write to access documents, emails, webpages and more with ease. Screen reading software like this helps boost communications between all employees, including those with disabilities.
In all of these cases, the use of assistive technologies can help break down communication barriers and make it easier for employees to communicate with each other, which can improve collaboration and increase productivity.
(Global AutoCorrect v4: Advanced Spell-Checking Software)
Better Mental Health Support
Assistive products can help support employees living with mental health conditions by providing the necessary support to complete tasks and participate in the workplace.
For example, an employee who struggles with anxiety can use a noise-cancelling headset to help reduce stress and anxiety. Similarly, an employee who has difficulty concentrating can use a productivity timer to stay on task.
By providing your workforce with assistive technologies, employees with physical disabilities can also receive the support they need to manage their mental health, which can lead to improved work performance, job satisfaction and overall well-being. Mental Health First Aid at work can also be a key way to support this.
More Employee Independence
To improve an individual’s functioning at work, assistive technologies can be used to increase employee independence. This is particularly important for people with disabilities who may need assistance with some tasks but are able to complete others independently.
For example, an employee who is blind can use a screen reader to independently access documents and emails. Similarly, an employee who has low vision can use a magnifier to read printed materials. By using these technologies, employees can complete tasks without needing to rely on others for assistance.
This increased independence can lead to improved job satisfaction, self-esteem and confidence, which can, in turn, boost motivation and productivity. In addition, it can also help create a more positive work environment by promoting inclusion and respect for all employees.
Culture of Diversity and Inclusion
Assistive tech can have a positive impact on workplace culture by promoting a culture of diversity and inclusion and tackling disability discrimination in the workplace.
When employees feel like they are respected and included at work, they are more likely to be motivated and productive. In addition, a culture of inclusion can help attract and retain top talent, as well as build customer loyalty.
By making your workforce diverse and inclusive, you can send a strong message to your employees, customers, and the general public that everyone is welcome in your workplace, and that you will provide the necessary accommodations to support all employees.
Looking For Expert Assistive Technology For Your Business?
Whether you need assistive technology, assistive tech training, or assistive tech technical support, Thriiver can help. We are experts in assistive technologies and have a team of highly skilled and experienced trainers ready to help you.
Our mission is to support a diverse and inclusive workforce. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you create a thriving workplace for all!