How technology makes WFH a permanent option for PWDs

How technology makes WFH a permanent option for PWDs

Malaysia’s lockdown for COVID-19 has proved that in many cases, it is possible for office workers to stay productive outside the confines of their cubicles. This is all made possible through new and existing communication technologies, whether on computers, tablets or smartphones.

This therefore underscores that workers with disabilities don’t need to head into the office to produce good work, remain productive and stay connected with their colleagues. How can technology be incorporated into the workplace?

Video call options

Video calls or video conferencing provide an option to have discussions where all members aren’t in the same place at once. Some popular platforms include

Microsoft Teams and Google platforms currently include live captioning so staff with hearing disabilities can keep up with discussions.

Speech to text apps/programs

When video calls do not come with captioning, speech to text apps can help fill in the gap. Some options for smartphones include

Speech to text programs can also help workers who have problems typing to prepare documents or reports. Programs like these include

AAC apps

Augmentative and alternative communication apps help communication flow in the opposite way: from visual to verbal. These can help with speech disabilities. Some of our recommendations are:

While PWDs can opt for (or ask for) the accommodations that help them perform at work, it’s also up to the companies and management teams themselves to proactively think about what a worker with disabilities might need, and improve or rethink work flows to account for staff with disabilities. Together we can make all kinds of work accessible for all kinds of people.

Resources

Administration for Community Living (2019) How Technology is Creating New Employment Opportunities for People with Disabilities [Accessed: 1 June 2021] Available at: https://acl.gov/news-and-events/acl-blog/how-technology-creating-new-employment-opportunities-people-disabilities 

The Big Hack and Business Disability Forum (2020) Best video conferencing apps and software for accessibility [Accessed: 1 June 2021] Available at: https://bighack.org/best-videoconferencing-apps-and-software-for-accessibility/

Fluent AAC (2020) Best AAC apps of 2020 [Accessed: 1 June 2021] Available at: https://www.fluentaac.com/bestaacapps 

Randy A.B. (2019) 10 Best Speech to Text Tools to Speed Up Your Writing Process [Accessed: 1 June 2021] Available at: https://www.elegantthemes.com/blog/business/speech-to-text-tools 

Sheryl B., PhD. (2012) Working Together: People with Disabilities and Computer Technology [Accessed: 1 June 2021] Available at: https://www.washington.edu/doit/working-together-people-disabilities-and-computer-technology