As a Disability Equality Trainer, I'm bemused by high street businesses. As a small business leader I come into contact with other small to medium business leaders and I suggest to them that I could add extra value to their businesses by delivering my disability awareness training. The reaction is fairly standard now, such as "that's a great idea but we cover that in our inductions". This is where my confusion lies, if this was the case I could walk into any shop or service provider and not be confronted by physical barriers i.e. steps, not cause a panic amongst the staff or be faced with blank faces or just sheer terror! I could speak and be understood or people would at least take the time to understand my needs. So what training are these people getting? Is it from the internet or is it just a sentence in the staff handbook which ticks the box?
In October I will be launching a 3-hour workshop on how to improve service for disabled customers. What a lot of people don't realise is one in five people has an impairment of some description. Whilst we find ourselves in this economic mess, can we really afford to ignore 20% of our customer base? Some of you who are following my blog may think where's the comedy gone? I'm afraid after 41 years daily struggles with getting petrol, getting a paper and shopping in general, the funny side has slowly ebbed away.
The other week as I live in a housing association flat my boiler had its annual test (just in case I'm poisoning myself with carbon monoxide!) Same old story, guy arrives and I'm faced with the ritual of being shouted at. Perhaps he thought I was deaf as I did have my stereo blaring whilst I was working on the computer in another room. More than likely though he confused my speech with having a learning disability and somehow people think shouting makes communication better. I'll tell you a secret, it actually makes you sound stupid and it's pretty annoying. So I'm stood in my kitchen thinking I'm a 41 year old man running my own business and this guy is assuming all the worst things about my disability. You can't tell me disability equality is being taken seriously although society is getting beginning to embrace disabilities it just seems it's at a pace of a slow slug. The point of this story is to demonstrate the need for a societal or culture change rather than picking on individuals, the guy in this case obviously thought he was doing the right thing, unfortunately though he was just simply unaware.
This post is meant to inspire the business people reading it to sign up to my workshop in October. I don't know if it will work, we shall have to wait and see.
If you are interested in the 3-hour workshop or know of anybody else, including businesses and organisation I can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org
Until the next time ……. Goodbye J