Using a Telephone at Work with an Impairment
This entry was posted on April 9, 2014.
In the UK there are almost Seven Million people of working age who have either a disability or health condition which may affect their ability to work in some environments. Communications and telephony need not be areas in which they should be marginalised but should be encouraged to add their skill sets to the workforce. Indeed many people with impairments are able to play very active roles in businesses thanks to innovations by phone and headset manufacturers.
The main areas in which disability are generally categorised are :
- Visual Impairment
- Hearing Impairment
- Mobility and Dexterity Problems
Solutions For Workers With Visual Impairment
Visual Impairment need not be an issue for those communicating in the office but the actual physical activity involved with operation of technology does present barriers.
For those with partial vision or complete blindness there are a number of features incorporated into certain telephones and headsets which allow accessible operation.
Some headsets have special compatibility with Unified Communications which can allow auto-pick up via an EHS or Hook Lifter. Not only can these automatically answer the phone for you but if you have a Braille Display then these allow easy handsfree access to it.
Headsets with these functions include the Jabra Biz 2400, Plantronics Supraplus, Sennheiser DW and SH/CC Ranges.
Telephones, IP Phones and Conference phones will usually have an easy find bobble on the number "5" so that a visually impaired operator can easily dial numbers. Further to this some Panasonic models have a text to speech caller display option so that the user can hear the number of the person calling before answering the phone.
Solutions For Workers With Hearing Impairment
For those with hearing difficulties communicating over distances can be doubly difficult. Some hearing aids conflict with the sound and will cause inteference. For that reason many models of telephone have been fitted with induction loops or inductive couplers. Also features such as voice amplification, loudspeakers and speech volume controls will greatly facilitate communications for those with hearing problems.
For users with severe hearing impairment - including deafness - there are options which can be used such as textphone by which one can use the free service called Text Relay which allows deaf, hard of hearing and speech impaired to communicate via a full text-to-voice and voice-to-text service - many system phones now have this as standard (more information at http://www.textrelay.org/).
Solutions For Workers With Mobility Impairment
Mobility and dexterity issues are many and varied but in terms of the operation of telephony in a business environment. There are a number of features specially designed for anyone who has sustained a hand injury of suffers from arthritis such as easy grip handsets, big button phones for easy dialling, quick dial directories ( available on the majority of system phones ) and handsfree features.
Perhaps, though, the greatest help for someone with manual dexterity issues is the is of a comfortable and well designed telephone headset. Many headsets can be either used directly with a PC or VoIP connection or with a handset lifter - making answering the phone possible without having to pick up or grip a handset.
In summary we would like to thank a lot of the manufacturers for their consideration of accessibility issues and state that there is no reason whatsoever that anyone with sensory impairments should not play a full part in business life. If you are interested in getting in touch with us then feel to call us on 0844 824 6664 or contact our team with your question here.