Ep 223 – Making the Virtual Workplace Accessible

With so many offices transitioning to remote work and all the technology that helps power that, it’s easy to get overwhelmed or be unsure where to start when it comes to the virtual accessible workplace. I wanted to get you up to speed quickly which is why I’m talking to my next guest while also pointing you to a handful of great resources to help educate yourself and your leadership on how to make the remote workplace more accessible.

Episode 223: Making the Virtual Workplace Accessible with Josh Christianson (@ethos_josh)

This episode of the Workology Podcast is part of our Future of Work series powered by PEAT, the Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology. In honor of the upcoming 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act this July, we’re investigating what the next 30 years will look like for people with disabilities at work, and the potential of emerging technologies to make workplaces more inclusive and accessible. Today, I’m joined by Josh Christianson, Co-Director, Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology.

How Do We Make Virtual Meetings and Work From Communications Accessible?

As more workers are working from home now than ever before, I wanted to tap into the expertise of Josh when it comes to making remote meetings and your virtual office accessible. In our rush to work from home, these are things we likely missed. Josh shares that the first place to start is by investigating our current technology and software products. He says that many of these already have built in accessibility features. For example, Josh mentions to me that Facebook Live video offers closed captioning which is fantastic but like you I wasn’t aware until now. Josh also shares about a number of built in accessibility features in Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and even Go to Meeting.

These are important considerations for every business because inclusive and accessible technology impacts a large percentage of your employ population as much as 20%. In 2019, BLS reported that 2 in 10 employees have a disability.

How to Purchase Virtual Accessible Workplace Technology

With more than 58% of employees currently working remote, the work from home and virtual workplace adoption trends have accelerated but Josh believes they are here to stay. This means that in the bigger picture of things, employers should be thinking about accessibility as they look at purchase and procuring future workplace technology. Josh share that you really just got to kind of dig into what the accessibility features are that the technology you are considering is offering. He says to evaluate them and become aware of what they are and how they may be used by your team. Most of the accessibility features are becoming highlighted which makes the research part of the procurement process easier than ever before. He encourages employers to give the technology a test drive for themselves. The first step is really for people just to go through whatever tool they’re using and find the accessibility features. And while those used to be deep, dark and hidden, they are increasingly prominent these days. And that shouldn’t be too tough for anyone to find. PEAT makes it easier to navigate the procurement process with their Buy It Guide which is included in the resources below.


I really appreciate Josh’s insights on this special podcast episode. His time here is going to help us all so much. I’m linking to the resources that Josh mentions in the podcast including the Buy It Guide, upcoming podcasts, and other helpful articles and guides they have put so much work. I believe the remote workplace is here to stay and whether it’s today or six months from now, we’re here to get you connected to accessible resources for your remote workforce. 

Connect with Josh Christianson on LinkedIn.



· Buy IT!—Your Guide for Purchasing Accessible Technology

· 2019 BLS Report on Employees with Disabilities

· Transcript

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.


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