Reasonable Adjustments and Accessibility Index
- Reasonable Adjustments
Reasonable adjustments are simply modifications made in the workplace or to a job that would allow a person with a disability to carry out the inherent requirements of their job.
The five steps to reasonable adjustments
1. Identify the need for reasonable adjustments
2. If necessary, complete a workplace assessment
3. Discuss options with your employee
4. Make adjustments
5. Support your employee and team to adjust to these modifications
Reasonable adjustment may include Assistive Technology; refer to the Defence Assistive Technology Program.
Employers are obliged under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 to make reasonable adjustments where required. An employee may not be discriminated against because they require or ask for reasonable adjustments.
This does not imply that reasonable adjustments involve a large amount of work, or are expensive. They can be as simple as sitting an employee closer to the printing facilities, or working with an employee to ensure their day is structured to include periods of sitting and periods of walking around.
Employees requesting reasonable adjustment have an obligation to disclose their disability to their supervisor. Once their disability has been disclosed, appropriate action must be taken.
Adjustments made must be necessary, possible and reasonable. It is not an employers responsibility to provide adjustments to the workplace if the requirements or requests are unreasonable or unnecessary.
Employees may not be granted reasonable adjustments that breach Occupational Health and Safety standards of the workplace.
If an employee discloses their disability in reaction to a workplace incident, for example performance counselling, they must expect that it may take some time to arrange reasonable adjustments, and for their work area to adjust to these changes.
If an employee is receiving counselling or disciplinary action for poor work performance, and they choose to disclose their disability at this point, attributing their poor work performance to their disability, it is the responsibility of the employer to:
- suspend the disciplinary process
- address the disability issues with the employee, in a sensitive manner, by identifying work related adjustments to assist the employee to meet the inherent requirements of the position
- provide the reasonable adjustments in a timely and respectful manner
- if poor work performance continues after a realistic timeframe once the reasonable adjustments have been made, the disciplinary process may recommence.
Reasonable adjustments in the workplace must not breach Occupational Health and Safety standards. The DDA provides that a person who cannot perform the inherent requirements of the job need not be employed and may be dismissed without unlawful discrimination occurring. Meeting reasonable OH&S standards must be accepted as being among the inherent requirements of any job.
Being aware of the emergency procedures in your building is essential to any work place. People with disability, even a temporary one such as a broken leg or sprained ankle, must be aware of the safety procedures they need to follow in an emergency. If a person cannot evacuate via fire stairs, they risk their own safety and the safety of others.
If you feel you may need assistance evacuating the premises, or cannot undergo the standard evacuation procedures, you must notify your supervisor and your ECO Floor or Area Warden. Together you will need to establish an evacuation procedure that suits your needs and that complies with the Occupational Health and Safety ACT, and the Australian Safety Standards.
The Australian standard for managing the evacuation of a person who requires assistance is as follows:
- Floor and section wardens must organise a dedicated minder for a person requiring assistance.
- The minder assists the person into the compartment (fire stairs) minus their equipment (crutches, wheelchair etc.) where they stand or sit in the corner with their legs (if sitting) close to the wall. In addition to possibly slowing up the general evacuation, trying to evacuate the person may result in the person and anyone helping them injuring themselves or others, especially if minders are not trained in correct lifting and carrying techniques.
- The minder is required to stay with the person while a third person, generally the Floor Warden, tells the Chief Warden that they are awaiting evacuation, the Chief Warden then tells the fire brigade who go and assist the person and their minder out of the building.
- These procedures apply to evacuation across Australia and are the same for bomb threat or any other kind of emergency evacuation.
If you or your employee requires special equipment to move around, and are uncomfortable with the prospect of leaving this equipment behind, please speak to your Floor or Area Warden to negotiate alternative arrangements, such as:
- The Chief Warden coordinates the locking and lowering of the lifts to the ground floor. Before lock down occurs, the person/people requiring the lift will enter it on their floor and ride down to the ground floor to evacuate the building without having to leave their specialist equipment behind. This procedure has been successfully applied at Campbell Park in Canberra.
In all cases, once the fire brigade arrives, the ECO team (all the wardens) take instruction from the fire brigade.
Please refer to the Emergency Response Procedure – Occupants Action Guide for more information, or speak to your ECO Floor or Area Warden.
Defence’s change management framework consists of three broad and overlapping elements: planning, consultation and implementation.
A supervisor/manager should provide support to all their employees, including those with disability, during each of these stages:
Planning / Consultation:
A supervisor/manager should discuss any changes affecting their employees, including people with disability (PwD) with them, at the earliest opportunity, as this reduces the risk of adverse effects resulting from ‘rumour-mongering’ or uncertainty in the workplace.
Supervisors/managers are accountable for the decisions they make. They must be able to justify these decisions by demonstrating that they are made in accordance with policy and be able to explain the reasoning behind them.
Prior to any changes, supervisors/managers should:
- consider attending training sessions offered by a specialised disability support agency designed to prepare them to assist their employees with disability during all stages of the change process.
- provide employees, including PwD, with all relevant information about proposed changes in the workplace in a timely manner.
- consult on change so that employees have the opportunity to influence proposals prior to their implementation.
- involve employees (including PwD) as early as practicable in the consultative process so that workplace issues are addressed as the proposals are developed.
- ensure that information communication strategies are inclusive of employees with disability.
- ensure that PwD are able to participate fully in large meetings and training courses, for example, providing induction loops in major meeting rooms and ensuring that off-site training centres also meet access requirements.
- consider the formats in which material is made available to employees in both hard-copy & electronic form.
Change in the workplace, on any level, should be implemented through education, consultation and review.
- inform employees at the earliest opportunity that a particular change is to occur
- outline the reasons for the change
- ask employees how they think that this change might impact them personally and on the section as a whole
- brainstorm some ideas to reduce negative impacts
- support employees in reaching an agreement on a plan of action
- assist the team in assigning responsibility for different tasks associated with the plan
- acknowledge and thank the team for their input, ideas and involvement
- put the plan into action
- give regular feed back to the team on progress.
In implementing changes in the workplace, managers should ensure that the ‘new’ work environment, including policies and practices, is sufficiently flexible so that all employees, including those with disability, are able to contribute as effectively as possible to the department and achieve an appropriate work-life balance.
Supervisors/managers should consider:
- using flexible work practices such as home-based work; job-sharing; part-time work; flexible working hours and purchased leave.
- These arrangements can be particularly beneficial for PwD, including those who have difficulty physically accessing workplaces, those experiencing episodic illness and those whose disability makes extended work hours difficult.
- consulting with PwD about any reasonable adjustments needed to address their particular circumstances.
- It would be expected, however, that the arrangements covering all employees would provide sufficient flexibility to support the needs of PwD and be set out in the DECA.
- creating advocacy roles.
- Identify an advocate, preferable a senior manage, to support employees with disability to ensure they receive ‘a fair go’.
- Identify a ‘buddy’ for the PwD, a colleague or team member who would ‘partner’ the PwD during the change process.
- providing equitable access to developmental opportunities for employees with disability.
- In the post-change workplace, the supervisor/manager should discuss learning and development opportunities with their employees with disability. These discussions should include supporting and encouraging PwD to upgrade their qualifications.
The same principles apply to organisational changes. Change affected employees with a disability may have specific needs that require extra consideration. Change Managers are to make particular efforts to ensure that an employee with a disability is given information on the organisational change activity and how it will affect them. If necessary, they are to provide the support needed in seeking and applying for reassignment opportunities.
The Change Manager must ensure that the principle of ‘reasonable adjustment’ is applied when assessing employees with disability when considering their ability to perform a role in the new organisation.
If you would like more information, please read Understanding the Needs of an Employee with Disability. This document provides a more detailed description of some possible factors that need to be considered in relation to employees with specific disabilities in the workplace. If you have further questions regarding Change Management, please contact us.
AUSLAN Interpreters may be used throughout a recruitment process, during training courses and for career development opportunities.
The work area is responsible for all costs associated with the use of interpreting services. If an area is experiencing funding difficulties, they may contact the Auslan for Employment (AFE) program, which assists employers to provide Auslan interpreting services for Deaf employees. The AFE also provide Deaf awareness training for co-workers. More information about the AFE program can be found on the JobAccess website
Guidelines for working with an interpreter -
- When working with an Auslan interpreter maintain eye contact with the Deaf client(s) and not the interpreter. An interpreter will sign all that is spoken, and will voice all that is signed almost simultaneously. The slight "lag time" ensures accuracy of information between both languages.
- Address the person directly, "Good morning Ms Smith"... rather than speaking to the interpreter, "Can you tell/ask Ms Smith". Speak in your regular manner as the interpreter will sign simultaneously. The interpreter will convey the message directly, "I have not been well" rather than "she said she has not been well".
- If an interpreter is working alone he/ she may need a break every 30 minutes depending upon the degree of intensity of the situation. It is appropriate for the break to be for 10 minutes as these breaks help avoid mental and physical fatigue and overuse injuries. Please negotiate this with the interpreter beforehand. Interpreters will have to work in pairs when booked for extended periods.
- The seating/standing position of an interpreter is important. The best position is where the Deaf person can see facial expression and maintain eye contact with both the interpreter and the professional/other speakers. Please consult with the Deaf client and organise this beforehand.
- Ensure adequate and appropriate lighting. Shadows or glare may make it difficult and tiring for the Deaf client to read the interpreter and vice versa.
- Refrain from engaging in private discussions with an interpreter which you do not want interpreted. An interpreter must interpret everything that is being said, private discussions can be offensive to the Deaf client and embarrassing for the interpreter.
- Avoid the use of idioms and slang expressions. For a person who is Deaf, English is their second language, just as it is for people who originate from non English speaking backgrounds. The use of such expressions can cause misunderstandings and confusion.
- Group situations need to be controlled to ensure one person speaks at a time.
- Avoid seeking advice from the interpreter
You can find more information about the conditions under which interpreters work at the AUSIT site.
You should try to allow as much time as possible to organise an interpreter as they are often booked weeks in advance. Listed here are a few contacts that may assist you with locating an interpreting service in your region. More contacts can be found on the External Support page.
Australian Institute of Interpreters and Translators Incorporated (AUSIT)
AUSIT is the professional association for Translators and Interpreters in Australia that provides information and a referral service. Whether you are looking for a Translator (written word) or Interpreter (spoken word), this site also has a search for interpreter function. AUSIT can also be contacted via email at their NSW Branch or their Victorian Branch.
Australian Sign Language Interpreters Association (ASLIA)
ASLIA is a professional body representing Australian Sign Language (Auslan) Interpreters which promotes awareness and recognition of the rights and responsibilities of practitioners. The site has links to the State and Territory ASLIA bodies through which Auslan interpreters can be found.
Community Relations Commission for a Multicultural NSW (CRC)
The CRC provides on-site interpreters, AUSLAN interpreters and other language interpreting services.
For on-site interpreter bookings fax: (02) 8255 6711 and to confirm an on-site interpreter booking phone: 1300 651 500 (free call).
Within Australia there is a legislative requirement, under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992, to ensure that access to facilities and services is provided for people with a disability equitably. Accessibility is an essential part of Defence’s business and refers to a range of items, including, but not limited to, access to physical locations, information, communication, career opportunities and parking facilities. Accessibility is essential for Defence employees and the general public.
Defence’s Reasonable Adjustment policy ensures that all employees within Defence are provided equitable opportunities to training, buildings, emergency management, parking and information on the intranet and internet.
The DDA makes it unlawful for an educational authority to discriminate against someone because that person has a disability. This includes all public and private educational institutions, primary and secondary schools, and tertiary institutions such as TAFE, private colleges and universities. It also includes in-house training provided to employees by private businesses or government agencies.
Defence is committed to removing barriers for employees with disability. This means all employees have equitable access to training and development opportunities. Work areas are expected to, in the first instance, supply funding for their employees to attend training that will contribute to their professional development, and any assistance they may require. Where this is not possible, funding may be applied for elsewhere.
- The Defence Business Training Centre (DBTC) will provide funding for assistance required for their training courses. This may include a venue change, an interpreter, or one-on-one training sessions in some cases where assistive software is used by the employee on their Defence computer. The DBTC will not provide individual OH&S items for the training course, such as office chairs. OH&S items required are the individual’s responsibility.
The DBTC requires notification of modifications required for the training session in advance of the course. Please indicate on the appropriate area of the course nomination form, or contact the Assistant Director Training Facilitation on (02) 62665361 for more information.
- The Auslan for Employment (AFE) program assists employers to provide Auslan interpreting services for Deaf employees. The AFE also provide Deaf awareness training for co-workers. More information about the AFE program can be found on the JobAcces website.
- The Defence Assistive Technology Program may also consider funding requests for training on a case-by-case basis.
The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) makes it unlawful for public places to be inaccessible to people with a disability. This applies to existing places as well as places under construction. Every area open to the public should be open to people with a disability.
Building accessibility refers to all aspects of the building. This may include alternative means of access to upper floors, Braille in elevators, appropriate tone and a range of emergency signals, appropriately weighted doors, disabled toilets, wide corridors, and range of other modifications to allow for equitable access for all people. Defence also has legislative responsibilities in the provision of parking for people with disabilities.
Under the DDA, the Attorney-General may make Disability Standards to specify rights and responsibilities about equal access and opportunity for people with a disability, in more detail and with more certainty than the DDA itself provides. On 2 December 2008, draft Disability (Access to Premises – Buildings) Standards, together with a number of associated documents, were tabled in the House of Representatives. The Standards were designed to assist people to better understand their rights and responsibilities in relation to access to premises.
The House of Representatives on Legal and Constitutional Affairs conducted consultations on the draft Standards. Their report, Access all areas, was tabled in the House of Representatives on 15 June 2009.
If you require assistance with access to buildings, facilities or car parking within Defence, please contact your regional Base/Site manager.
The legal context within which Defence is obligated to meet web accessibility requirements is guided by The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA). Under the Act, Defence has an obligation to make reasonable adjustments where required. Although the legislation does not spell out the requirements for accessible web design there is a legal precedent in Australia under which a case was brought against an organisation that did not make its websites accessible.
In 1999 Bruce Maguire brought the case and won against the Sydney Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (SOCOG) on the grounds that their website was inaccessible to the disabled. Maguire, who is blind, was unable to access certain parts of the Olympic Games web site - the sports index and results tables - because the site designers failed to provide text alternatives for images and image maps used on the site. The Australian Human Rights Commission, (AHRC -formerly the Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission) in August 2000 awarded him $20,000 compensation.
On 11 December 2008, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) announced a new standard that will help Web designers and developers create sites that better meet the needs of people with disabilities and older users. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 addresses barriers to accessing the Web experienced by people with visual, auditory, physical, cognitive and neurological disabilities, and by older Web users with accessibility needs. WCAG 2.0 explains how to make content:
Web accessibility refers to designing websites to allow content to be accessed by as many people as possible. This may include people with slow Internet connections, disabilities, different browsers or screen resolutions, or other differences that may cause problems when accessing a site. This does not mean that web pages should only contain minimal design or features, only that the designer must consider the trade off between the design of the site and the target audience's ability to access the information.
Tips to Accessible Websites
These tips are provided by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), which was created to lead the Web to its full potential by developing protocols that promote its evolution and ensure its interoperability.
- Images and animations: Use the alt attribute to describe the function of each visual.
- Image maps: Use the client-side map element and text for hotspots.
- Multimedia: Provide captioning and transcripts of audio, and descriptions of video.
- Hypertext links: Use text that makes sense when read out of context. For example, avoid "click here".
- Page organisation: Use headings, lists, and consistent structure. Use CSS (cascading style sheets) for layout and style where possible.
- Graphs and charts: Summarise or use the longdesc attribute.
- Scripts, applets and plug-ins: Provide alternative content in case active features are inaccessible or unsupported.
- Frames: Use the noframes element and meaningful titles.
- Tables: Make line-by-line reading sensible. Summarise.
- Check your work: Validate your design. Use tools, checklists, and guidelines available at http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG
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