01302 247 777
enquiries@ihus.group
01302 247 777
enquiries@ihus.group

Disability Smart Awards – Is Your Business a Smart One?

The Business Disability Forum has launched the Disability Smart Awards to recognise those organisations that demonstrate a clear, ongoing commitment to meet the needs of their employees and customers.

The awards are about celebrating businesses and organisations, and the individuals working in them, who have taken outstanding initiatives in disability smart action. The 2019 Disability Smart Awards are now open.

As a provider of sensory rooms, changing places facilities and residential adaptations, we want to highlight the importance of taking a disability smart approach, even if your business is not entering the awards.

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.

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Why Sensory Rooms are a Smart Option

Sensory rooms are designed to help people who find the outside world over-stimulating, or who have limited visual, auditory and processing skills.

Within a sensory room, a combination of lighting, sound, textures and surfaces creates an environment that will stimulate the senses in a safe way. Originally designed for children with autism, sensory rooms are becoming more widely adopted in schools, but they also have a crucial part to play in other environments.

In 2018, Gatwick Airport became the first UK airport to open a sensory room. Here, it provides a calming space for passengers with special needs so that they can relax before flights.

Airports and other working environments can be stressful, especially for those with conditions or disabilities that make them more susceptible to the sensory impact of the world around them.

It should not take a big leap of imagination to see how the sensory room could benefit many different kinds of organisations and businesses looking to become more disability smart.

Supportive spaces are essential in helping people manage anxiety and feel more comfortable and confident in situations they might otherwise experience as stressful.

The Smart Choice for Business

Your business does not have to enter the Disability Smart Awards to gain long-term benefits from becoming disability smart. The world of work continues to evolve and the values it expresses are becoming more and more inclusive.

Disability Smart businesses recognise the social value of what they are doing, but also that this can have a profound impact on their bottom line.

To find out more about the practical changes you could make, please complete our online contact form and we will reply as soon as possible. Alternatively, call us on 0808 164 1111, or email enquiries@ihus.group.

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If you simply have a question for us, please submit your details, along with a quick message, and we’ll back to you ASAP. You can also reach us on 0808 1641111 or email us at enquiries@ihusprojects.com

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