Oct 15, 2021

Accessibility Issues in Workers’ Compensation

3 min read

Accessibility is a matter of making your products or services available to all. That includes people with mental and physical disabilities and who don’t speak your language.


Implementing accessibility best practices isn’t just the right thing to do or a great way for workers’ compensation providers to grow their reach, client loyalty and success rates while mitigating risk – though these are reasons enough. Sometimes, it’s a matter of law.


For instance, the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) sets legal requirements for providing services to individuals with disabilities. As the ADA National Network explains:


“The ADA is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities…It guarantees equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in public accommodations, employment, transportation, state and local government services, and telecommunications.”


And while all workers’ compensation providers should be familiar with how ADA impacts insurance claims, you should also consider whether your services are accessible to clients.


After all, workers’ comp services take in more clients with disabilities and language barriers due to the very nature of their work.


Managing Transportation Accessibility


An employee with a disability, whether they had the disability before or as a result of a workplace injury, may have difficulty driving. This becomes problematic in workers’ comp when clients are unable to make it to their medical appointments. As a result, transportation services have become part of the standard treatment offered by workers’ comp programs.


Providing transportation services benefits providers because it increases the chance of employee healing and success. It also saves valuable time for providers and employees when a missed appointment may not be rescheduled for days to come.


If you offer transportation services to clients through a third party, you will want to make sure that the service itself is accessible. For instance, they should provide wheelchair-accessible vans, so employees in wheelchairs can also get the care they need.


Providing to the Deaf and HOH


The Deaf and Hard of Hearing (HOH) deserve equal access to services, but many businesses forget to account for this audience.


To make your services more accessible, start by providing equal access contact options. People with a hearing impairment often can’t contact businesses by phone, so consider options like messenger or email.


You should also provide captions on any pre-recorded video content you release, whether it’s an advertisement, social media post or informative website clip. Closed captions [CC] are turned on by a viewer, whereas open captions are always present.


Regardless of which captions you choose, provide a transcript as well. Transcripts are handy for lengthy videos when people, even those who can hear well, may prefer to read the content or print it out.


When conducting in-person conferences, meetings or events, you might consider using live caption tools that interpret what you’re saying and provide captions for the audience in real-time. Of course, the best option is to hire a reputable ASL interpreter as technology isn’t always free of error.


Overcoming Language Barriers


Language diversity trends affect all businesses, especially workers’ compensation services. In 2018, there were over 350 languages spoken in the US and 67 million people who didn’t speak English at home.


It’s not uncommon for workers’ compensation providers to work with these exact individuals. People with limited English proficiency are more likely to be exposed to harmful conditions in the workplace, and immigrant workers are 15% more likely to be injured on the job.


Providers in workers’ comp need to communicate effectively with these clients to prevent dangerous misunderstandings and ensure precise services. Language interpreters are a great way to mitigate this risk as they serve as a middleman who can translate for you and your clients.


Workers’ compensation providers who deliver hazard assessments to lower the risk of injury in the workplace should also keep language barriers in mind when advising employers.


Preventing Document Literacy Barriers


Document literacy is another barrier to accessibility in the insurance industry. Documents that require a high literacy level are difficult to read for people who have limited English proficiency, a mental disability or are less educated.


To remove this barrier, improve readability by using shorter sentences, getting rid of unnecessary information and making paragraphs smaller. Use simple words, avoid confusing industry jargon and write at an 8th-grade level or below to boost reading comprehension.


In workers’ comp, it can be hard to avoid unfamiliar industry terminology. When this is the case, always include a glossary to define industry words.


For multicultural clients who speak another language, document translation services that translate documents into the client’s first language are an effective solution.


Make Your Services Accessible and Compliant


By making your services accessible, you’re ensuring compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act. By overcoming transportation, disability, language and literacy barriers, you guarantee successful services and happy, loyal clients who don’t sue.


And it’s the right thing to do: everyone deserves equal access to workers’ compensation insurance and claims. You can give it to them.


If you’re ready to make your services more accessible, reach out to the experts at iLingo2. We’re certified professionals in interpretation, translation and transportation for workers’ compensation providers.