What Does it Mean to be Disability Smart?
Businesses should treat disabled people equally. This goes beyond being a legal requirement, because business success and even survival can depend upon it.
Disabled people are part of the population, and as such, they are often customers, employers or stakeholders.
The purple pound signifies the consumer interests of disabled people and it worth £212 billion in the UK alone, according to the Extra Costs Commission and Scope.
Disabled people represent a considerable economic force, and therefore it makes sense for businesses to be able to appeal to them. They can be loyal customers to those businesses and organisations who can provide them with the services and products they need.
They can also influence how their friends and relatives shop for products and services.
Similarly, many employees are increasingly value-driven when deciding who they wish to work for. For organisations, this means demonstrating their social value through aspects such as inclusivity. Social value is becoming a significant driver in how companies attract talent, and investment.
The Business Disability Forum reports that only 40% of disabled people are in full-time employment, compared to 80% of the general population. Many disabled people face tough environments should they wish to enter work. Businesses could do more, and, as with consumers, they could be tapping into a whole pool of talent.
Therefore, disability smart is about being business-savvy, as well as demonstrating social awareness through recognising the needs of disabled customers, employees and stakeholders. Crucially, it is about businesses taking action to embed this approach in how they work, serve and interact with people.
Disability Smart Awards
Liverpool Football Club won a 2018 Disability Smart Award, under the Disabled People’s Choice category.
The award praised the work of its accessibility stewards, who fans had nominated for going the extra mile in ensuring that disabled fans would have a football experience equal to everyone else.
Their work also involved them making sure that disabled fans had whatever accessible features they needed to support them, including accessible changing places and sensory rooms for people with autism.
The Disability Smart Awards are both a celebration of the work that organisations have done and a challenge to others.
By raising the visibility of inclusiveness in business and making it more prominent, the Business Disability Forum hopes to encourage many more organisations to consider what they can do to become disability smart.
Beyond Basic Requirements
Providing proper access for disabled customers and employees protects a business’s reputation, and it guards against indirect disability discrimination.
However, while this is helping to support disabled customers and employees, it is fulfilling a basic requirement.
Fitting improved changing places toilet facilities is certainly a disability smart move, but what can businesses do that goes beyond this?
The Liverpool FC example shows the added value that well-trained staff can add. This brings a vital, human aspect to being disability smart, and demonstrates an extra element of attention to people’s perceived needs.
Another part of the Liverpool disability smart approach has encompassed sensory rooms.