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Tara Shekede, Me Plus More

Ensuring Universal Accessibility in Online Workplace Training – Why is this not the norm?

For many, jumping on online training at work is like second nature, a given. Thought to be accessible to all employees, but in reality, it’s not accessible to all employees. The reality is that folks with intellectual disability often find themselves with limited or no access to online training. And the reason? It’s pretty straightforward – online training in the workplace isn’t exactly user-friendly in physically accessing the online training modules and in the language used within the training modules.

The website hurdle

When you hop on the website for workplace training, it’s not always a walk in the park. Sure, there is the usual username and password routine, but then (in most cases), there are lots of things to click on and much information to read to ensure you are heading in the right direction. But is the navigation friendly and the information accessible for those with intellectual disabilities? Want to take a guess? It’s often a big fat no!

What does this mean…. It means that employees with intellectual disabilities will miss out on vital training that all employees have a right to access. Then we beg to question whether the workplace rights of individuals with intellectual disabilities are upheld when it comes to upskilling in the workplace. Well, that’s a big question—a bit big for this article, maybe a conversation point in the next.

Moving on…

Accessible information

Have you heard of easy-read English? Easy-read English makes information accessible to those with intellectual disability. It uses simplified language, clear formatting, and visual aids. All in all, making the information easier to understand opens the doors to process the information at hand. Not only does easy read open the doors for understanding, but it also promotes inclusivity for the individual. It ensures the person is not excluded from accessing essential information readily available to others. But wait, there is more, and I could go on and on about the benefits of having the information accessible, but just 1 more reason, I promise. Having the information available in easy read English empowers individuals with intellectual disability by giving them the tools, resources, and ability to make informed decisions within their workplace. When there is an opportunity for informed choices, independence and self-advocacy are fostered. A winning combo!

So, why is accessible online training not the norm?

With what you just read, including all the benefits, it’s hard to understand why accessible online training is not the norm in all workplaces. There are reasons, maybe lots, some thought to be valid. Valid, maybe, but should still be overcome! And not too hard to overcome.

In the vast landscape of online workplace training, some remain unaware of the accessible options available, and it’s time to change that narrative. Take, for instance, Me Plus More, which is an exemplar of accessible workplace online training. Tailored tools and resources, all presented in easy-to-understand English, make implementation a breeze and ensure accessibility for employees with intellectual disabilities.

But the journey doesn’t stop there. The Black Dog Institute’s “Healthy Mind” is an online Easy Read tool designed to empower individuals with Intellectual Disabilities to recognise and regulate their thoughts and feelings. Although not exclusive to workplace training, its relevance in fostering mental well-being cannot be overstated.

Another noteworthy initiative is “Our Site,” crafted by Women With Disability Australia. While not explicitly centred on workplace dynamics, it serves as a crucial resource addressing the education gap. This website is a comprehensive hub for women and girls with disabilities, offering insights into human rights, leadership, leadership, decision-making, sexual and reproductive health, and safety from all forms of violence.

Where to from here?

Creating accessible content may seem like a specialised skill set, but do not worry – it has already been developed. Now, the key is ensuring that employees with intellectual disability also have access to these resources. This can be done by 1 or all of the following:

Recognise the right to access

    Acknowledge that employees with intellectual disability have the same right to access online training as their peers. Ensure that your training initiatives consider the diverse needs of your workforce.

    Explore existing accessible resources.

      Please take advantage of accessible content or platforms, such as Me Plus More, Healthy Mind, and our site, all specifically designed for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Leverage these resources to supplement your training program.

      Budget allocation for inclusivity

        Allocate a portion of your training budget specifically for creating accessible content. This may involve adapting existing materials or developing new ones to accommodate diverse learning needs.

        Foster a culture of inclusion

          Promote a culture of inclusion within your organisation, emphasize the importance of making training opportunities available to all employees, regardless of their abilities.

          Food for thought…. consider this: extending accessible online training to employees with intellectual disabilities isn’t just a suggestion; it’s a fundamental right. By providing these opportunities, you not only bridge gaps but also foster a culture of inclusivity within your organisation. Remember, every team member deserves the chance to thrive and grow professionally. So, let’s not just talk about inclusivity – let’s actively implement it. Make online training accessible, empower your entire workforce, and witness the positive transformation it brings to your team. After all, equal opportunities are the cornerstone of a genuinely progressive and harmonious workplace.

          Sydney-based Tara is the Founder and CEO of Me Plus More, a groundbreaking platform that provides accessible resources and empowers individuals with intellectual disabilities – The startup is supported by the Super Connect Support Programme (Powered by Empact Ventures)

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