Law Society publishes guidance to support disabled people in the workplace

To coincide with Global Accessibility Awareness Day, the Law Society of England and Wales has published guidance to support disabled people in the workplace by highlighting how organisations should prioritise digital accessibility.

The guidance provides useful information for firms, in-house teams and organisations to improve disability inclusion by introducing and implementing accessible technologies. It also covers neuro-inclusion, whilst acknowledging that not all neurodivergent people consider themselves disabled.

Members have told the Law Society that many technologies and digital processes in law firms and organisations present barriers to accessibility for disabled users.

Common issues reported include existing technologies not being accessible and a lack of compatibility between assistive technology and an organisation’s existing technology, systems and rules.

Firms and organisations need to consider the common systems and processes where digital accessibility is important, including:

  • Document management systems
  • Time recording software
  • Billing processes and software
  • Document creation, drafting and review software
  • Customer/client relationship management (CRM) systems
  • Training platforms and content

The Legally Disabled? research found that if used appropriately and with a range of diverse end users in mind, technology can be an enabler and improve accessibility and efficiency, potentially to the benefit of all.

Law Society president Nick Emmerson said:

“At a time when the legal sector is increasingly being encouraged to explore the use of legal technologies to enhance legal practice, it is important that law firms and organisations are not inadvertently creating barriers by failing to consider accessibility at a baseline level.

“Instead, firms and organisations should use the opportunities that technologies bring to create a more accessible and inclusive profession for everyone.

“Starting an organisational accessibility journey is not easy and there is a vast amount of information out there which can make it difficult to know where to begin. Our guide aims to assist organisations at the beginning of their accessibility journey.

“No matter the size of the firm, in-house team or organisation, the profession can make a positive change to improve disability inclusion by making technology accessible. As it does so, we are keen to share best practice and so would encourage people to let us know how they get on.”

Demi Rixon, vice chair of the Law Society’s Disabled Solicitors Network committee, who led on production of the guidance, said:

“It is exhausting and sometimes soul destroying tackling the vast amount of barriers trying to enter the legal profession as a disabled person. Then once you are in, there are even more barriers making it difficult to stay in, and accessible technology is one of these.

“Technology is innovative and exciting and can be a powerful tool to create better inclusion for everyone. Importantly, it can shatter some of those barriers disabled people face.”

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