The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) is transforming the workplace.
One of the emerging areas of interest within the ADA is the topic of psychiatric disabilities – conditions which require a variety of solutions to help employees reduce noise and light, and increase privacy.
The Department of Labor provides some guidelines for an ADA-compliant workplace for psychiatric disabilities.
“Many employers are aware of different types of accommodations for people with physical and communication disabilities, but they may be less familiar with accommodations for employees with disabilities that are not visible, such as psychiatric disabilities,” their website says. “Over the last few years, increasing numbers of employers have expressed a desire and need for information and ideas on accommodations for employees with psychiatric disabilities.”
Fortunately, the solutions for employees dealing with psychiatric disabilities are simple and cost-effective.
Privacy Panels for an ADA Workplace
One of the details in the ADA regarding effective workplaces states that an easy modification for an ADA-compliant office would be to reduce and remove distractions in the workplace.
In offices where open spaces dominate the work area, OBEX privacy panels provide the privacy needed to decrease sound and noise. The panels can be installed within minutes without interrupting workflow.
This means that your business can conform to ADA guidelines without lost labor or interruptions that could compound an employee’s anxiety and stress.
Our privacy panels provide significant sound reduction along with increased visual privacy. In addition to that, we provide a variety of configurations, colors and materials that can mesh with the current visual design of your office.
Cubicles for an ADA Workplace
Another recommendation from the Department of Labor is for offices to add “room dividers, partitions or other soundproofing or visual barriers between workspaces to reduce noise or visual distractions.”
An excellent solution for this is cubicles, which provide a sufficient reduction of noise and sight distractions. If your office has adopted an open work area, cubicle-style walls and partitions can allow you to reduce sound, sights and light without needing a major overhaul of your existing work areas.
These private workspaces not only comply with ADA suggestions but they have many benefits for productivity and focus. The research is clear that employees work best when their mind has enough spatial privacy. This sense of privacy allows the mind to be more creative and focused, leading to better production and outcomes – and it can bring your office in line with what the Department of Labor says about making your office ADA-compliant.
“The majority of accommodations can be made for minimal (if any) cost and a small investment of time and planning. Moreover, effective accommodations can be good for business,” the department notes. “They help employees return to work more quickly after disability or medical leave, eliminate costs due to lost productivity and can be key to recruiting and retaining qualified employees.”
Other Suggestions for an ADA Workplace
Making your workplace a comfortable place for those with psychiatric disabilities extends beyond privacy panels, cubicles and other sight and sound reduction methods.
One of the keys to providing a proper workplace for those with disabilities is to be in communication with them about what they need to be efficient and focused in the workplace.
“It is important to remember that the process of developing and implementing accommodations is individualized and should begin with input from the employee. Accommodations vary, just as people’s strengths, work environments and job duties vary,” the Department of Labor notes.
Other tips for creating a welcome and productive ADA workplace are as follows:
- Schedule breaks according to what the individual needs.
- Be flexible with therapy appointments and other mental-health-related medical visits.
Boston University’s Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation is also an excellent resource for learning how to create an ADA-compliant workplace for employees with psychiatric disabilities.