Employees with Disabilities
As cited by The Benefits Guide, More than 9 million workers in the United States have at least one disability. These disabilities range from visible disabilities, such as needing a wheelchair, to invisible disabilities, such a chronic illness. No matter what kind of disabilities are present in your workforce, it is important to make your wellness program inclusive and accessible to all employees.
When it comes to legal requirements, your wellness program must comply with the law, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA). For more information on how these laws impact your wellness program, we suggest reading this WELCOA article. They do a fantastic job at explaining what these regulations look like in the workplace. For detailed descriptions and examples of wellness program regulations, we recommend checking out JA Benefits.
Tips for Creating an Accommodating Wellness Program
Once you understand your legal requirements, you’ll realize there are many different ways of going about making your wellness program more accommodating to all employees. To help, we’ve included all the best tips from The Benefits Guide below!
- Inclusive Planning Committee: One of the best ways to make your wellness program inclusive is to be inclusive from the beginning. Include employees with varying levels of physical fitness, a range of interests, as well as those with disabilities. This will give you strong set of voices that accurately represent your workforce. They will also be able to guide you and give input on how to make all aspects of your wellness program as accommodating as possible.
- Offer a Variety of Formats: Everyone collects and processes information differently, so consider putting information out in multiple formats. Information can be made available in print in both large and small font sizes, online, in audio, or even in video format. That way everyone has the ability to fully comprehend the information you are putting out.
- Provide Alternatives: A major part of wellness programs is encouraging employees to participate in seminars, challenges or goal setting for rewards. Each option needs to offer alternatives for those who may not be able to participate. For example, if a reward is being given out for attending a nutrition class, make sure that class has alternatives for those with vision, hearing, or learning disabilities. If you are doing a “step” or “movement” challenge, have personalized alternatives available for those in wheelchairs or those who may not be able to patronage in strenuous exercise.
- Take a Holistic Approach: Many wellness programs focus on biometric screenings or movement monitoring to gauge success. However, there is so much more to overall health. Introduce health challenges that encourage employees to sleep 7-8 hours a night, drink more water, and focus on mindfulness. These challenges can have a wide range of health benefits and they allow anyone to participate.