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Assistive Technology in the Workplace - Towards a more inclusive working environment

Report of a preliminary survey by the British Assistive Technology Association


k. A.


British Assistive Technology Association - BATA


Oldham, UK: Eigenverlag, 2013, 32 Seiten: PDF




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Three quarters of employees who use assistive technology (AT) say it has improved their effectiveness at work, although employers could do more to promote the use of AT, according to a survey of workers and employers commissioned by the British Assistive Technology Association (BATA). Some 78% of those who took part in the Assistive Technology in the Workplace study said AT had improved their effectiveness at work. Other benefits included improved job satisfaction (64%), greater motivation (50%), reduced sickness absence (30%) and a higher opinion of their employer (55%). The online survey, sponsored by assistive technology company iansyst, was conducted in 2012 by Gareth Headley of The Clear Company, specialists in inclusive recruitment. More than 8,000 organisations and employees were invited to participate in the survey, with more than 2,400 visits to the online questionnaire.

The aim of the survey was to gain a clearer picture of the use of AT in the workplace, how it is requested and how it is implemented. In 2012, there were an estimated 11m disabled people in the UK (19% of the population of 63m). The population is predicted to rise to 70m by 2030, with a greater number of people over 65, many of whom will still be working. The majority of AT users who responded said they were not disabled: only 48% of respondents said that they had a disability. Among respondents who use AT at work, 52.3% said they were either not disabled or would rather not say. Around two thirds of employees do not know how many people have AT in their workplace. This could be simply because the figures on AT use are not known to individual employees, according to BATA, but it may also indicate that AT use is not obvious to others or that the culture encourages AT users to conceal the fact.

Since 1995, UK organisations have been required by law to make reasonable adjustments, including the provision of AT, to accommodate disabled employees and to give customers equal access to goods and services. Although 91% of AT users said that they knew who to ask for support, if they needed it, and 88% were aware support is a legal obligation, less than 40% had a procedure in place known to managers for obtaining AT for staff. Although 75% of employers knew that provision of AT in the workplace is a legal obligation, 28% either did not know or thought that did not apply to them. AT solutions are much more likely to be offered to employees as a result of individual requests for support than because they are embedded in the culture and procedures of an organisation: only 21% of employers were said by employees to be actively promoting AT.

'Despite the growing use of technology in our everyday lives, the general level of understanding of what AT is and how it can be used is still patchy at best,' comments Baroness Walmsley, patron of BATA, in the foreword to Assistive Technology in the Workplace. 'As this report shows, when the right AT is used, employees report high levels of satisfaction and improvements in all those areas - such as sickness absence, motivation - that employers know are key indicators of effective organisations.' There are positive responses from those who are benefiting from using AT, but also reluctance by others to ask for AT, and a low level of impact measurement by employers on the use of AT, the report points out.

BATA Executive Director Barbara Phillips said, 'Work needs to be done to educate and inform employees about AT and about what they are entitled to expect from an employer. But there is also more that needs to be done by AT suppliers and advisers to equip employers to play their part. Working with others, we need to find better ways of making objective information and advice about AT more readily available.' As well as that and other recommendations relating to the AT sector itself, the report suggests specific actions employers could take, such as doing more to identify employees whose performance could be enhanced by assistive technology, ensuring there is no discrimination against them and making sure that managers are aware of the legal requirements around AT.

BATA Chair Mark McCusker said, 'To me, one of the other keys to progress is ensuring that Government and other agencies include AT in their policy documents and action plans and communicate better how effective AT can be'. 'BATA is already working to increase awareness and understanding about the use of AT in education and training but if the Government was more proactive on this, more people with disabilities would be better prepared for future employment and more able to work productively and happily in the jobs they have.'

Keeping a newly disabled person in employment has a cost benefit of at least 2.5 times an employer's investment, according to the RNIB. This is particularly true when it comes to the growing number of older employees. Recent research by the British Dyslexia Association suggests that about 10% of adults aged 16-65 - around 6m - have some difficulty spelling or reading, with 4% having severe difficulties.

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Graue Literatur / Forschungsergebnis / Online-Publikation


British Assistive Technology Association (BATA)
BATA Online Ltd

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Informationsstand: 04.09.2013

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