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
- Zoom (standalone app/in browser)
- Microsoft Teams (standalone app)
- Google Meet/Google Hangouts (standalone app/in browser)
- Skype (standalone app/in browser)
- Webex (standalone app)
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
- Live Caption for iOS/Android phones
- Google Live Transcribe for Android phones
- Just Press Record for iOS phones
Speech to text programs can also help workers who have problems typing to prepare documents or reports. Programs like these include
- Google Docs Voice to Text (available in Chrome browser only)
- Windows Dictation (requires you to allow online speech recognition)
- Apple Dictation
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:
- FluentAAC (for iOS)
- Proloquo2Go (for iOS)
- Sono Flex Lite (for iOS)
- LetMeTalk (for Android)
- Avaz AAC (iOS) (Android)
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.
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