Accessible design: encouraging diversity in the workplace

An inclusive workplace is defined as one that values their employee’s differences and makes them feel accepted and welcome. While the majority of modern workplaces strive to create an inclusive environment, and would say they have policies in place that encourage diversity, accessibility often remains an afterthought in workspace design. When accessibility is considered, it is typically the bare minimum—a single wheelchair access bathroom or a lift next to the staircase. These are, of course, necessary elements, but when they’re the only accessible design features in a workplace, the space is still unaccommodating for up to 24% of the population1.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to inclusive design, but the goal is to create a space that can be used in a multitude of ways as not to exclude anyone. This means considering the broad spectrum of ways that people interact with the world, and making design decisions that allow for each person to work in the way that is most comfortable and productive for them. Everybody is different, and many access needs are ‘invisible’, so consulting an accessible design expert is a great way to ensure your space is inclusive.

Creating accessible work environments with acoustics

Creating accessible work environments with acoustics

Many modern offices are designed with an emphasis on collaboration, with most employees’ desks situated in open-plan environments. Open-plan spaces are known to be loud, busy places, and for people with vision impairments, hearing impairments, or neurodiversity, a noisy acoustic environment can seriously hinder their ability to work. Creating ‘acoustic accessibility’ in workspaces is important to ensure everyone is set up to thrive.

There are a variety of ways you can approach acoustic treatment in the workplace. Spaces that require a high level of speech intelligibility, like meeting rooms, need more treatment to create an environment where everyone feels comfortable speaking and listening. Acoustic baffles, acoustic screens, and wall treatments can provide acoustic absorption and a layer of acoustic and visual privacy in open-plan offices. Breakout spaces give people a choice to leave their desk if they’re feeling distracted, need to take a phone call, or want to collaborate on a project. Treating the walls of a breakout space, or installing screens and floating panels, creates a quiet environment that facilitates these activities.

The benefits of inclusive spaces

The benefits of inclusive spaces

Everybody benefits from accessible workspaces. Creating an environment that is inclusive for people from all backgrounds broadens the scope of skills and expertise available to the business. It also means all employees feel comfortable and supported in the workplace, which contributes to increased productivity and job satisfaction.  

Autex Acoustics supports accessible design, and we encourage you to reach out to your account manager to discuss how you can use acoustic treatment to make your space more accessible.

Designing for accessibility

24% of the New Zealand population live with an access need, yet accessibility in workspaces is often overlooked. Creating offices that cater to the needs of everyone increases diversity and workplace satisfaction—benefiting both businesses and staff. Explore our case study and article on designing for accessibility to learn more.

Creating acoustic accessibility for The Global Centre of Possibility

The Global Centre of Possibility’s new head office on AUT University’s Auckland City campus is home to the Possibility Leadership Program, a platform designed to facilitate 12 entrepreneurs who live with access needs in the process of creating a more equitable, accessible future. Acoustics play a big part in accessibility in the workplace as people with vision impairments rely on sound as their primary source of information. In order to create an environment that supports and enables people with different access needs to flourish, the Global Centre of Possibility worked with Autex Acoustics to create a custom acoustic solution for their meeting space.

Reference:
Disability. (2018, August 2). Retrieved from https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/populations/maori-health/tatau-kahukura-maori-health-statistics/nga-mana-hauora-tutohu-health-status-indicators/disability