Accessibility in Business: How You Put Your Staff First

Accessibility in business

Unfortunately, much of today’s world was built to cater to non-disabled people. Nevertheless, society has become more aware of this solemn fact in recent decades. As a result, communities worldwide have been making places in their spaces for people with health conditions and impairments. With that said, what constitutes a disability is still stigmatized and highly debated. You see, when someone mentions an unspecified disability, the listener jumps to a visible one (i.e., disabilities noticeable just by looking at the individual). But the truth of the matter is that there are invisible ones, too (i.e., mental disabilities, autism, chronic fatigue, etc.). And as you know, your duty toward your staff is to make the workplace accessible regardless of their situation. Here’s where the telecom industry comes in; telcos can boost accessibility in business and thus boost staff morale and productivity.

Work from Home Made Easy

As the world better understands the needs of the disabled community, specific accommodations have become a staple in businesses to ensure the comfort and prosperity of their teams and employees. One such accommodation is the work-from-home order. Popularized by the COVID-19 pandemic, this order has become increasingly valuable for all employees. Not only does it prevent contagious illnesses from making it into the office (e.g., H1N1 and COVID-19), but it can also offer disabled employees the necessary leeway to take care of themselves on their rough days while still delivering on their tasks. Mobility, for example, could prove to be an issue for wheelchair users, but working from home could prove a reprieve from dealing with moving around in an unkind world.

Where Does Telecom Come in

Suppose you know that some of your employees would need more days working from home than others due to their circumstances. In that case, you could seek a deal with a telco to offer your employees efficient connectivity on your dime as part of their employment benefit.

Communications Made Easy

Specific disabilities render communication slightly tricky (e.g., hearing impairment). However, in this day and age, several innovations, such as Telecommunications Relay Service (TSR), bridge this gap. TSR allows people with hearing or speaking difficulties to communicate via the telephone. It relies on “communications assistants” to facilitate the calls, be they local or long distance, at no cost to the user. There are several types of relay services, including:

Text-to-Voice TTY-based (traditional) TRS

The caller and the communication assistant both have text telephone devices with keyboards in this relay service, but the person being called does not. Using a textphone, the communication assistant reads what the caller has typed to the person being phoned before typing and sending the response back to the caller.

Voice Carryover (VCO)

The caller can speak but cannot hear in this relay service, which is available in both traditional TRS and VRS. The communication assistant records or signs the called person’s responses to the caller as the caller speaks to the called party.

Hearing Carryover (HCO)

In this type of relay service, the caller can hear but has difficulty speaking. The called party hears the caller’s text read aloud by the communication assistant. After that, the caller hears the called party’s responses.

Video Relay Service (VRS)

Through video conferencing technology, individuals whose first language is American Sign Language (ASL) can utilize this Internet-based variant of TRS. The deaf person communicates with a certified interpreter who serves as a communication assistant by signing instead of typing. The called party hears what is signed by the interpreter, who also signs the caller’s response.

Internet Protocol (IP) Relay

Similar to TTY-based TRS, IP Relay communicates between the communication assistant and the deaf, hard-of-hearing, or speech-impaired person via the Internet (via a computer, PDA, or other web-enabled devices) as opposed to the conventional telephone network.

Captioned Telephone Service

People with residual hearing who are deaf or hard of hearing use captioned telephone service, similar to VCO. The captions are displayed on a particular phone that has a text screen. When using a captioned telephone, the caller can converse with the person being called while simultaneously listening to them on the other line and reading captions on display. There is also a two-line captioned telephone service available. Still, instead of typing the caller’s response as in conventional TRS, the communication assistant will repeat or re-voice what they say. The communication assistant’s voice is simultaneously automatically converted to text by speech recognition software in real-time, then displayed on the captioned phone.

Where Do Telcos Come in?

Well, telcos can facilitate these services. As a business owner, you can find a telco that offers these services and make them available for your employees. Your hearing or speech-impaired employees will then have access to accommodations facilitating a key component of their work: communications.


Today, Accessibility in business is a key factor in employment. Therefore, you can offer accommodations to your employees with disabilities through telecommunications. These arrangements allow you to harness their talent while they work in an accessible environment. Happy employees generate better work in a shorter timeframe. As a result, the overall productivity of your office would increase.

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