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How disabled-friendly is your company?

Mr Paulley, a wheelchair user, was denied access on a bus because a mother had used the space for her pram, and refused to give it up. Many media headlines have named the bus company and Mr Paulley, but no-one has named and shamed the mother.

Prams fold (most of them anyway) and children can sit on a mother’s lap. The wheelchair user, on the other hand, cannot get on the bus and has to wait for the next one. And if you use public transport you know that can be a long wait.

The Supreme Court ruled that the driver of a bus has to do more than merely politely request a person to move. They should be very firm and state the person is required to move seats, even stopping the bus for a time to emphasise the request. In general, we see other passengers support transport workers when they act to protect the rights of people with a disability or in a vulnerable situation. This extends into other areas where business can be aware and act positively to support the disabled.

There are 2.1 million people of working age with a disability in Australia, and the Disability Discrimination Act gives them the right to be able to access goods and services. My question is ‘How disabled-friendly is your company?’.

  • Do you provide usable access for visitors who rely on a wheelchair for mobility
  • Do you have a hearing loop for deaf and hard of hearing visitors?
  • Are steps clearly marked and is your lighting good for those with sight problems?
  • Does your website meet disabled standards?

Training staff to be accommodating to people with a disability when they engage with your business makes life better for them and for those around. Who knows it may even help build awareness of your business as disability friendly environment.

One in five Australians have some form of disability and that is a huge number of potential interactions in your business where a little thought and investment can make a difference to their daily life.

Remember, being a disabled-friendly business can pay dividends through loyalty and more customers through the door.

For any advice and guidance on making your workplace disabled-friendly just get in touch with The HR Dept.