One in five people in Australia live with a disability, not everyone with a disability has mobility or coordination difficulties but almost everyone will go through phase of life where they need supported access eg. Parents with prams, a child on crutches or elderly using a walking stick.
If you own or manage a business, it’s important to make sure that you don’t exclude a person who needs assisted access from participating in your business.
All people deserve respect, equal access to jobs and participation in society; It’s not just a legal requirement. Yet many business owners fail to consider their customers when designing their premises, with the result being inaccessible and unfriendly areas.
In addition, the Australian Human Rights Commission reports that people with a disability are underrepresented in our workforce, with workforce participation rates at only 48% compared with 80% for people without disability.
The business case for hiring people with disabilities is strong. In a supportive work environment there is reduced staff turnover, lower recruitment and retraining costs and the opportunity for both businesses and individuals to benefit. A diverse and inclusive business, with a culture of understanding and awareness which reflects the community in which it operates, is more resilient too.
The good news is it is possible to make your business more accessible and legally compliant.
Here are some things to consider:
Australian law requires that customers with disabilities are able to access your goods or services just like any other customer. So improving access supports both employees and customers as well as meeting your legal responsibilities.
Here are some of the things you can do to provide better access for everyone:
Ensure your evacuation procedure is inclusive. For instance:
Many of these ideas are common sense and do not involve huge amounts of money:
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to adapting a workplace. For instance:
The best thing to do is to ask the employee what adjustments or supports they need.
Lastly, commit to change and get your team involved. Maybe reach out to other businesses who are already on the journey or have done something similar.
The Australian Network on Disability provides useful tips for employing people with disability and helps businesses to design business and products for customers with disability.
Remember, taking small steps is better than none!