Making physical workplace adjustments

Summary of topics

  • What are physical adjustments?
  • Identifying necessary physical adjustments
  • Making physical adjustments

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A physical adjustment refers to any change made to the structure, surrounds, or furniture and fittings within a workplace to remove barriers and improve access for people with disability. Most physical changes needed to improve access are minor. Things like moving desks, purchasing ergonomic furniture, or installing brighter lighting. Very occasionally a more significant adjustment might be needed, such as installation of a ramp, automatic door opener, or visual fire alarm.

In terms of any adjustments to the workplace environment, so obviously assistive technology is one, so I have assistive technology, and then there is always for example, the accessibility of the facilities. We actually have voice announcements in our lifts, which is almost the norm these days. Most of the equipment at Microsoft, so for example Windows laptops and so forth, they actually have built in screen readers and magnifiers so that's not a problem. All in all it's a pretty accessible environment.

[Auslan Interpreter] Really, I feel as though I do my job exactly the same as anyone else. So all the posties that can hear do their job exactly the way I do it, the only difference is three mornings a week I have an interpreter here so I can participate in team meetings, I can chat with my manager and my coworkers if I need to, and what that does is gives me a sense of value and confidence in my work.

[Auslan Interpreter] You know, it's about just making those adjustments, so I knock on the door and if somebody doesn't understand me, I will show them a little note that says I am a deaf postman, and our customers are very happy to be accommodating. I have worked here for many years and I was mentored by other posties, and worked strategies out so I knew exactly how I can participate in the community as an equal, and I suppose that's the thing that I like most is that I am treated as an equal.

The person who can best identify necessary physical adjustments is the employee with disability. It's important to have conversations about access requirements before an employee commences work. You can also identify changes required as your employee spends more time in the workplace to ensure any barriers to doing their job are removed. A clearly defined process will help you to identify and define physical adjustments required in the workplace now and into the future. This includes identifying the barrier that needs to be resolved, the specific changes required, and who will ultimately be responsible for ensuring the adjustment is completed. When an employer or employee identifies a requirement for a physical adjustment, it needs to be addressed quickly, so having a good process is essential for this to happen. JobAccess is also here to help with further advice and assistance about making physical adjustments in your workplace.

Sometimes physical adjustments need to be made to make sure people with disability have the same chance to work as effectively as anyone else.

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