Improving workplace inclusion: The role of assistive technology - Business Leader News

Improving workplace inclusion: The role of assistive technology

In this guest article, Richard Purcell, Co-Founder and Director at CareScribe, discusses how boosting independence can empower staff and improve rates of inclusion.

I first recognised how impactful assistive technology could be for inclusion when I built Medincle, a medical spell-checker tool, whilst at University. Being dyslexic, I struggled through medical school and even at work as an NHS doctor. Creating Medincle was my first step towards truly understanding the opportunity assistive technology can offer to empower people both within education and the workplace.

Flash forward several years and I’m now one of the co-founders of CareScribe, an assistive technology company based in Bristol, with a mission to create an accessible future where people with disabilities can study and work independently.

Employees are more likely to stay with organisations that provide adjustments

A 2023 report by Neurodiversity in Business showed that almost 50% of staff will stay with an organisation that offers tailored adjustments to their needs. And, as rates of workplace diversity increase, so does the need for appropriate interventions that can support each person’s diversity and increase their participation.

The Business Disability Forum also highlights this statistic but adds that 48% of staff say adjustments increased their productivity too. Yet, despite the changes and adjustments, 56% still experience workplace barriers that prevent them from full participation and engagement.

    Assistive technology can increase independence and inclusion

    Providing assistive technology in the workplace, such as captioning and note-taking software or dictation software, can unlock workplace independence and boost inclusion for users. By offering support to neurodivergent staff and team members with disabilities, you’re creating an environment which can increase participation in many working situations. This includes all-hands internal meetings, remote conference calls, and so on.

    To optimise the potential of these interventions, we must promote universal acceptance of this technology. And, of course, embrace the differences in communication and diversity between us.

    The normalisation of diversity and of the tools and technology that enable parity for people who are disabled must become a typical feature of the workplace. Assistive technology can promote this change in key ways:

    • Facilitates liminality and reduces the frequency which people experience their disabilities in workplace settings
    • Gives employees tailored support that unlocks better engagement and participation
    • Reduces situations where employees may otherwise have to request help or specific tools to engage in internal or external communication to the level of their peers

    Collective efforts can help normalise the use of assistive tech

    Assistive technology is all around us. Many people turn on subtitles and captions on their subscription shows. But how typical is it to see this in the workplace? Or see captions included in live streams or conferences?

    By including captioning in every internal and external meeting – both online and in-person – companies can organically promote inclusion. Indeed, offering site-wide licences for various assistive tech not only ensures that you are creating an accessible environment for neurodivergent staff and team members with disabilities, but it also raises awareness of accessibility and inclusion across your entire workforce. And promoting the universal acceptance of assistive technology is exactly the vision CareScribe is aiming to bring to life.