Fostering Inclusivity: Why PANBlast Created an Accessibility Guide

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Author: PANBlast logo

At PANBlast, we believe a diverse and inclusive set of thoughts and perspectives creates better business outcomes and better humans. Creating an inclusive and accessible environment is not just a moral imperative but a driver of success. Disability can take many forms, from mobility and cognitive challenges to hearing and vision impairments, one in four U.S. adults lives with some form of disability.

As a company that values diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB), we recognized the need to address accessibility barriers and empower our employees to contribute their best. This realization led the DEIB committee to develop an internal accessibility guide, a living resource to ensure our workplace practices and culture foster an environment where everyone can thrive.

The catalyst for change 

The rise of remote work and virtual collaboration during the pandemic brought accessibility concerns to the forefront. As our team continued to grow in size (and location) and transition to hybrid work models, we became acutely aware of the potential challenges faced by employees with diverse abilities, whether working from home or in the office. Conversations within our DEIB committee and feedback from employees highlighted the need for a more inclusive approach to communication, meetings and workplace interactions. 

Collaborating on the guide

To develop our accessibility guide, we engaged with employees across the agency. We conducted informal polls to understand common accessibility concerns and gathered insights from those with first-hand experiences. Our committee’s research delved into best practices for creating accessible workplaces.

Conversations within the DEIB committee played a crucial role in shaping the guide’s content and priorities. We explored various scenarios, from hybrid meetings to social events, and identified areas where accessibility could be improved. 

Key highlights from our resource

Our accessibility guide serves as a comprehensive resource, covering a range of topics and providing actionable steps to foster an inclusive environment. Here are some key highlights:

  • Closed Captions and Call Transcripts: To ensure effective communication for those with hearing impairments or preferences for written information, we implemented closed captioning and call transcript capabilities within our virtual meeting platforms.
  • Video Settings for Hybrid Meetings: By encouraging all participants to join video meetings, even when physically present in the same room, we enable those who rely on lip-reading or visual cues to fully engage in discussions.
  • Video Playback Accessibility: When sharing videos during meetings, we provide separate access links for remote attendees to mitigate potential playback issues within virtual platforms.
  • Meeting Moderation: For larger gatherings and social events, we assign dedicated moderators to ensure remote participants are actively included, monitor chat discussions, and facilitate seamless communication between in-person and virtual attendees.

Embedding accessibility in our culture

Developing the guide was just the first step; embedding its principles into our daily operations and workplace culture was equally crucial. We launched the guide through multiple channels, including company-wide announcements on Slack and reminders in our weekly newsletter, “The Top 5.”

Building an accessible and inclusive workplace is an ongoing journey, but one that PANBlast is committed to. By fostering a culture of understanding, empathy, and accommodation, we can unlock the full potential of our diverse workforce and create an environment where everyone feels valued, supported, and empowered to succeed. 

Our accessibility guide is specific to our needs as an agency, but we encourage you to consider creating your own with the above in mind.