A webinar with Mike Adams, Purple’s CEO, Erkan Ibrahim, Business Partnerships Manager and Catherine Grinyer, Big Voice Communications
2017 has been a busy year for Purple who are now supporting and changing the aspirations of 5,000 disabled individuals. Purple work with disabled individuals and businesses to help change the conversation surrounding disability and their success was rewarded this year by being awarded with the Quality Standard.
Erkan asked Mike about Purple’s vision for 2018. From the individual’s perspective, he thinks 2018 will be a year for consolidation with 1,500 more disabled people running their own care. And for businesses, more big brands will be seen to be committing to disability confidence and giving disability more visual presence. If we are going to increase the number of Disability Confident businesses in 2018, accessible communication needs to be made available to employees to give them confidence around using the correct language and etiquette.
Catherine highlighted Barclays as a best practise example in disability communications. Take a look at their website www.barclays.co.uk and you will see a number of ways to make banking easier e.g. sight services, hearing or speech services, mobility and dexterity services – all offering solutions to make banking accessible. Barclays have taken a really good look at their disabled customer requirements and have shared comprehensive solutions via their website and trained employees in branches too.
Catherine suggested some top tips for offering better disabled customer service:
- Have the conversation – show that you are willing to listen to customers/ employees with disabilities
- Not everyone will agree on everything – there is general agreement on some basic guidelines about terms to use/avoid.
- The word ‘disabled’ is a description not a group of people. Use ‘disabled people’ not ‘the disabled’ as the collective term.
- Many deaf people whose first language is British Sign Language (BSL) consider themselves part of ‘the deaf community’ – they may describe themselves as ‘Deaf’, with a capital D, to emphasise their deaf identity.
- Avoid medical labels. They say little about people and tend to reinforce stereotypes of disabled people as ‘patients’.
- Don’t automatically refer to ‘disabled people’ in all communications – many people who need disability benefits and services don’t identify with this term.
- Consider using ‘people with health conditions or impairments’ if it seems more appropriate.
- Avoid phrases like ‘suffers from’ which suggest discomfort, constant pain and a sense of hopelessness.
- Wheelchair-users may not view themselves as ‘confined to’ a wheelchair – think of it as a mobility aid instead.
- Common phrases that may associate impairments with negative things should be avoided, for example ‘deaf to our pleas’ or ‘blind drunk’.
- Most disabled people are comfortable with the words used to describe daily living.
- People who use wheelchairs ‘go for walks’ and people with visual impairments may be very pleased – or not – ‘to see you’.
- An impairment may just mean that some things are done in a different way.
Mike asked Erkan what New Year resolutions could an organisation take in 2018? Firstly, they should follow Purple on social media https://twitter.com/wearepurpleorg to keep up to date with latest news and trends. Thinking about national awareness days/ months as an opportunity to communicate with employees about disabilities. Become Disability Confident, it’s not a big undertaking but it sets organisations apart when it comes to being seen as an inclusive employer. Finally, consider looking into award entries to understand best practice examples from other organisations.
Catherine’s New Year resolution suggestions are related to accessibility and encouraging businesses to review their existing communications. Look at your website, ask people with disabilities to test your website and feedback; could your email and social media communications be made more accessible? Survey your customers and employees to ask for feedback on your accessibility. What about your recruitment processes? Are you reaching the best candidates or could your processes be made more accessible?
Finally, Mike shared his predictions for 2018:
- Purple and KPMG will produce a disability guide for board members – disability confidence needs to come from the top
- All premier league football clubs will become Disability Confident
- More businesses acknowledging the commercial aspects of embracing disabled talent
The full webinar is available to view here.