Jennison Asuncion, who focuses on digital accessibility within LinkedIn Engineering, is completely blind. On any given day at work, he uses JAWS, software that reads what's on the screen or display, to access web applications and websites. On mobile, he uses the VoiceOver screen reader setting on his iPhone. Tools and accommodations like the ones Asuncion uses daily have never been more important — for employees and employers.
Today, one in four adults in the U.S. lives with some kind of disability — some of which may not be obvious to the people around them. “Many people living with disabilities aren’t living with visible ones,” says Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, president of RespectAbility, an organization that fights stigma and advances opportunities for people with disabilities. So-called “invisible” conditions such as chronic pain, dyslexia, bipolar disorder, lupus, Crohn’s disease or migraines are federally protected, yet many people aren’t even aware their colleagues have them — and many workplaces aren’t fully empowering employees who do.
The traditional office setup of a computer, keyboard, mouse and maybe a landline phone doesn’t meet everyone’s needs. Chronic pain can make using a traditional keyboard and mouse difficult, for example, and people with colorblindness or dyslexia might struggle reading the slides in a presentation on a laptop screen.
As companies across industries make diversity and inclusion a priority, some are making full use of design and technology to create the accessible workplaces of the future today. Companies who strive to make their offices accessible set themselves up to hire great candidates and tap into a much larger talent pool.