TIME REQUIRED30 mins
TEAM SIZE2 or more
GOOD FORSafe and empathetic work environments
It can be difficult to understand the importance of accessibility and workplace adjustments if you’ve never used them.
This exercise will help your team members recognise the barriers that some people can face in the workplace.
It’ll also help them think about the difference workplace adjustments can make to remove barriers.
Removing barriers for people with disability makes the workplace more accessible for everyone.
What you’ll need
If you’re together physically, you’ll need a place to meet.
If your team is working remotely, you’ll need a phone or video conferencing tool.
When you choose a tool, think if anyone in your team has access requirements and if they’ll be able to easily use it.
Scheduling the session
Set up your meeting at a time where you’ll get the best results.
This means think about the diverse needs of each of your team members.
Think of things like this:
- Do some people work better when it’s not 9am?
- Does anyone have kids or caring responsibilities that mean they need to start late or leave early?
- Is there a time that a regular meeting always happens to avoid?
How to run the activity
This is a rough schedule of how you can run the session.
Acknowledge country (20 seconds)
Always acknowledge the traditional owners before you start.
It shows your respect for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people.
Confirm pronouns (20 seconds)
Go around the room and have everyone confirm their pronouns or ask everyone to display them either in their screen name or written down on a piece of paper.
This helps support transgender and gender diverse people and instil empathy for diverse people in your teams’ minds.
Confirm access requirements (20 seconds)
Ask everyone to let you know if they have any access requirements to take part in this activity.
Remember, it’s up to them to share information about themselves to you or the group.
Set the scene (5 minutes)
Explain to your team why accessibility is important.
A good way to start is to read out this statement from the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission:
“Everyone should feel productive and valuable in the workplace. Workplaces are often not designed to be inclusive to people with disabilities, whether it be the layout of the building or the work hours required. This can sometimes prevent people from performing the requirements of their job.”
If possible, invite someone from the Enablers Network to speak to their lived experiences of disability and accessibility.
Explore your environment (15 minutes)
Ask your team to spend 15-minutes exploring their work environment.
Ask them to note down any accessibility barriers they see.
To help them know what they’re looking for, to your team:
- If I used crutches, could I access this workspace I’m in?
- If I was a person with visual impairment, would I be able to use this computer set up?
- If I had anxiety, would this workspace help or hinder my ability to do my job?
- If I was sensitive to light or noise, would this workspace allow me to work effectively?
- If I had impaired motor function, would this workspace suit my needs?
- Does this workplace have a kitchen? If I had an eating disorder would this space make me feel comfortable or safe?
- If I had a service animal, would this workplace be suitable for their needs?
Based on what they find, ask them to note how things could be made more accessible such as:
- The door into my workspace is very narrow, so it would need to be wider to make sure anyone with access needs could get in here
- The shelves in my workspace are very high off the ground, so unless you’re very tall, you’d find it very difficult to access these places, so it’d be good to lower them
- The overhead lights are fluorescent, so could we replace them with something less likely to cause migraines for people with light sensitivities?
- The main work room is very loud because the kitchen is next door, could we install soundproofing for people who may be sensitive to noises or have tinnitus?
- There is nowhere for people to work aside from the main workspace, which can get really hectic, so could we create a quiet space somewhere for people to go and work if they get sensory overload?
Discuss observations (10 minutes)
As a team, discuss:
- accessibility features everyone made a note of in their work environments
- anything that wasn’t accessible
For people working remotely, get them to discuss what steps or changes they could make so their workplace is more accessible.
If they’re working in their own home, they can think of how they’d make their home more accessible to people with different types of disability.
For people working together, discuss what changes the team or your organisation could make to the work environment so it’s more accessible.
You could make a list of suggestions to give to the team in your organisation that manages workspaces.
Also look at what government programs you can access to help with adjustments.
Who we consulted to write this
We consulted with staff networks to check the language in this tool is appropriate and respectful.
For this tool, we consulted with:
- Autism Success Network
- Enablers Network