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Reasonable accommodation needs for employees who use wheelchairs

Employees who use wheelchairs at work need to be facilitated to move around easily through the office without having to worry about obstacles like narrow doorways, stairs and inadequate restroom facilities.

Accommodations for PWDs at work | © Pixabay

Employees with wheelchairs (Pixabay)

Removal of physical barriers, parking with spaces reserved for people with disabilities, doorways, and entrances that are easily accessible to wheelchairs, and ample space in your offices and in the lobbies of your building are all examples of common accommodations. Hiring a consultant to provide information can help the employer provider a better environment for persons with disabilities. The employer can provide special equipment to the employees with disabilities. This may include height-adjustable desks, accessible washrooms, and buttons in elevators and elsewhere in the building. 

When such changes are made for persons with disabilities, it makes a big difference in how they work and also how they feel when they come to work. One of the ways of accommodating for wheelchairs at work is to provide parking spaces near entrances for wheelchair users and other persons with disabilities. The amount of parking spaces for disabled employees depends on the number of available spaces in the parking lot. It is advisable to designate two spaces for disabled employees, what others would consider a good rule of thumb. Access ramps should be available at entrances so that it’s easier for wheelchair users to enter and leave the building. Installation of at least one disabled bathroom in each of the bathroom in the office is very crucial for those in wheelchairs to access.

This may not work everywhere but if an employee prefers to use a normal chair while working, an employer should consider providing additional room to store a wheelchair. Creating a larger cubicle space or office space large enough for the employee to move from wheelchair to office chair would make mobility easier for the person using the wheelchair. . The space should be large enough to accommodate a wheelchair, desk, office chair and other office items. 

Employers should consider allowing workers who use wheelchairs to work remotely or part-time hours especially if the kind of work does not require them to be physically at work. Being able to work from home saves persons with disabilities from the stress of commuting to work and when they work from whatever location, they still feel valuable.  For many, the ability to work from home saves them from the stress of commuting to their job, not to mention they'll still feel valuable and productive. This can be mentioned in the job description for any new position when hiring.

Providing a less stressful workplace would make a big difference, organizations such as Facebook, Nike and Google have instituted concepts such as a No-meeting day. Employers can also encourage their employees to enjoy their lunch break away from their desk instead of working through it. 

Finally, training may not be seen as a form of accommodation but when managers are trained and educated on different forms of disabilities, the rights of people with disabilities in the workplace and how to make the workplace more accessible and more inclusive, they would then know how to handle persons with disabilities and in this case those who use wheelchairs as opposed to seeing them and not knowing how to handle them. 

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