A case from the Supreme Court recently drew attention to what action companies should take to allow disabled people access to goods and services.
It concerned a wheelchair user who had been denied access to a bus because a mother with a pushchair was occupying the space and refused to move. The Supreme Court found that bus drivers should go beyond simply requesting such a space is vacated, and do so very firmly – perhaps delaying the bus to pressure a person into moving.
Helen Colechin from The HR Dept South London highlights other things that local companies could do to serve disabled people.
There are 6.9 million disabled people of working age in the UK and the Equalities Act gives them the right to access goods and services.” says Helen. “Disability takes many different forms, so it’s worth thinking beyond just wheelchair access.”
For instance, do you have a hearing loop for deaf or hard-of-hearing people? Or how about marking obstacles such as steps extra clearly to help people with failing eyesight? Your website is another consideration – does it meet disabled standards?”
In the workplace, such measures are called ‘reasonable adjustments’. And there are ways you can use HR to help too.
Helen carries on: “Mental disability should also be considered. Dementia is a case in point. It is a growing challenge in society. I understand that Marks and Spencer are very good at training staff to assist customers with dementia: displaying patience and helping them with sorting out payment, for example.”
With 19% of the population classed as disabled, it shouldn’t be regarded a chore to put measures in place to make their lives easier. In fact, the opposite is true. There are a huge number of people who could become loyal customers if you showed them you care. Using your HR function to do this is a great place to start.