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How Can we Support Consumers with a Disability?

How Can we Support Consumers with a Disability?

Research suggests that consumers with a disability spend in excess of £80 billion in our economy and that for the average business consumers with a disability may represent up to 20% of their customer base.

Are businesses confident about how to engage with and address the needs of this growing consumer group?

Many large businesses invest heavily in equality and diversity and will have a legal or compliance team who oversee a company wide “Strategy” in relation to the key business issue of equality and diversity, but what are the fundamentals that any business of any size operating in any market can do to provide quality support?

During July 2013 the Prime Minister and leading business figures launched the Disability Confident Campaign, a campaign which is intended to challenge perceptions and to make businesses more confident about employing and supporting individuals with a disability. A series of regional events are planned throughout 2014 with keynote speakers and inspirational figures with the knowledge and expertise to help you and your business become more disability confident.

As an independent Disability Consultant I am often asked by clients and small business owners what they can do to be more accessible to consumers with a disability.

In my mind there are a few basic principles which if followed will enhance the customer experience:

  • Use a normal tone and voice when engaging with the individual
  • Treat this customer the same as every other customer you meet
  • Trust the person with a disability as the expert on their abilities

The best reasonable adjustment that any individual or business can make is to have an open mind, successfully supporting a person with a disability is to see the ability rather than the disability.

We have supported many businesses to gain the confidence and knowledge to provide quality support; we have now trained over 2,000 people and worked with businesses from the hospitality industry, education providers, transport companies and emergency services.

Upon completion of our courses people often say how they were initially scared by the subject or felt tense when they approached a customer with a disability but that they now feel more confident.

We need to break down barriers and remove the fear if we are to become a truly disability confident society.

One of the challenges that many Training Managers face when trying to organise training and development is freeing up staff and resources. One way that businesses can train staff to be more confident around the subject of disability is to implement E-Learning into their overall approach.

E-Learning is a cost effective way to reach staff spread over multiple sites and can be a wonderful resource which if managed correctly will add considerable value to your business.

*Research published by office for Disability Issues