How to use Universal Design to enhance the employee life cycle

In today's dynamic workforce, creating a workplace that empowers diverse talents is crucial for success. With 1 in 5 people currently identified as neurodivergent - a number expected to grow to 50% by 2050 - companies are increasingly embracing Universal Design as a framework widely used in education to unlock individual strengths and skills.

When environments and systems are adapted to enable everyone's unique talents and abilities, businesses reap the rewards with more creative decision-making, happier employees and heightened productivity. In this blog, we dive deeper into how Universal Design for Work can enhance different stages of the employee experience -  from recruiting top talent to retaining diverse teams.

In a recent survey by Texthelp, 64% of neurodivergent workers said they believe their organization could be doing more to support people with a neurodiverse condition. 52% of neurotypical workers said they felt the same.

The role of inclusive technology in creating a Universally Designed Workplace

It’s important to note that as well as creating inclusive physical spaces, many of our working lives now involve navigating the digital world. That's where inclusive technology can have a significant impact. Read&Write for Work inclusion software was created with Universal Design principles in mind, featuring a selection of tools to assist various learning styles.

This can help you apply the principles of Universal Design for Work to create a workplace where everyone, neurodivergent, neurotypical, or with disabilities, can contribute to their full potential.

How to apply 7 Principles of Universal Design for Work in the employee life cycle

In a recent webinar we were joined by Professor Nancy Doyle the Founder of Genius Within CIC. As an individual with ADHD and a company owner of over 200 neurodivergent staff, she is passionate about fostering a neuroinclusive environment. Nancy provides some insights into how the principles of Universal Design can enhance the employee experience. 

  • Designing
  • Hiring
  • Contracting
  • Training
  • Performance Review
  • Wellbeing
  1. Perceptible Information:
    Simplify job role descriptions with adjustable text, background choices and multi-sensory options to make it more inclusive for all. It also helps to make it editable and printable for accessibility. Offering assistive technology such as Read&Write to candidates widens the talent pool by promoting understanding across diverse abilities and preferences. This fosters a more inclusive recruitment process, ensuring individuals with neurodivergent conditions or varying needs can better engage with and understand the job role.
  2. Equitable Use:
    When designing job descriptions, focus on performance and output using behavioral and results-driven language, such as "meeting targets," to avoid vagueness. This approach ensures that job objectives are clear and measurable, creating a level playing field for all employees. Emphasising specific achievements and outcomes promotes a fair and unbiased process that values individuals based on their contributions and capabilities.
  3. Simple and Intuitive Use:
    Keep designs and language simple with clear, regularly reviewed goals. This ensures that communication and expectations are easily understood by all employees, regardless of their background or learning styles. By simplifying processes and language in job descriptions and documentation, companies reduce the risk of misinterpretation. Providing Read&Write to all employees further promotes this principle by giving individuals the chance to choose how they consume information with different features like text-to-speech tools, word translation and more.
  4. Tolerance for Error:
    Conduct safety, risk and customer-facing task checks to minimize the need for 100% accuracy, fostering a culture where mistakes are opportunities for learning rather than failures. Inclusive tools like Read&Write offer proofreading and error correction features, supporting employees in maintaining a high standard of accuracy.
  5. Flexibility in Use:
    Design roles for both specialists and generalists, fostering adaptability. For example, when considering senior roles, explore options without supervision responsibilities and aim to have specialists in different areas. This demonstrates a clear commitment to accommodating a variety of skills and preferences within the workforce, promoting an inclusive and flexible work environment.
  6. Space and Size for Approach:
    Consider seeking advice from specialists to ensure that physical office spaces are tailored to accommodate various needs, such as those with mobility devices or sensory considerations. For example, adjustable desks and chairs, sensory-friendly workstations. Assistive technology like Read&Write also provides options like screen readers, screen masking, and speech-to-text tools, enhancing accessibility for employees with diverse needs. 
  7. Low Physical Effort:
    Consider the extra burden of commuting and busy workplaces for neurodivergent individuals. Offering different workspaces, flexible hours and hybrid or remote working options can significantly enhance accessibility and accommodate diverse needs. Assistive technology like Read&Write also reduces physical and cognitive strain with various customizable features to understand information and work productivity.

Join our upcoming webinar on Neurodiversity Inclusion

Want to learn more about how to enhance your inclusion journey? Don't miss our new webinar on Wells Fargo's Blueprint for Neurodiversity Success! Hear insights from industry leaders, the role of inclusive technology, Read&Write, and more.

March 14th (10am ET / 2pm GMT). Can't make it? Sign up anyway to receive the full recording!