Creating a culture of accessibility in your lab

March 28, 2023 | Lab Furniture

For lab spaces to be safe and an effective working environment for everyone, the lab design should take into consideration all potential end users - including persons with disabilities. Labs that practice inclusion can expand their talent pool and create an environment where everyone can work together.

An individualized assessment of the workspace is essential when incorporating any change or adjustment so that your lab can work in accordance with existing guidelines in accommodating employees with disabilities, helping them reach their potential.

Here are some insights given from Today’s Clinical Lab: 

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Design spaces in a way that accommodates different mobility needs.

Rule of thumb states that the approach to accessibility is about being proactive in implementing Universal Design principles. All staff must be able to safely access multiple areas and be able to avoid a hazard or an incident quickly and independently. Modifications might include repositioning equipment to avoid bumping.

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Accessible work surfaces and equipment.

Simple but effective choices of work-related equipment would go a long way in enabling people with limited mobility to be able to do their day-to-day activities. Rather than static benches, labs should adopt flexible-height workstations that can facilitate fine motor control and visual access. Storage cabinets should also have accessibility features like castors or revolving trays to improve lab material accessibility.

Other considerations would be placing utility and equipment controls within an easy-to-reach from a seated position, and securing flexible connections to electrical/gas/water lines. 

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Accessible solutions for people with sensory needs. 

The lab’s surrounding environment should be conducive for people with disabilities to be able to conduct work efficiently. For personnel with hearing loss, adjustments might include written instructions or notes and transparent face masks alongside a satisfactory level of light to make lip-reading possible.

For people with visual impairment - aside from good lighting - large-print, high-contrast instructions or illustrations and even the color of surrounding areas should be utilized to allow efficient visual information processing. Additionally, it is important to keep your lab’s furniture layout consistent to allow ease in navigation. Emergency communication should also not depend only on voice alerts and instead integrate visual, vibrotactile, and auditory stimuli to ensure safety. 

 Having a lab that accounts for accessibility to every potential disability is an impossibility. However, it is crucial to ask a person with impairment on what they need to be able to successfully accomplish lab operations.

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