Category

Accessibility

Why spikes aren’t the answer

By | Accessibility, Business, Disability, Emily Yates, Lifestyle, News, Workplace

If you’ve followed us for a while, you will know that, as a charity, we pride ourselves on facilitating communication and connection between disabled people and their non-disabled peers, through our disability awareness training, talks at conferences and helpful resource creation. As disabled people ourselves, we are fully aware that those who have little to no experience around areas of access and inclusion, or any disabled relatives or friends, don’t always get it right (and, sometimes, get it very, very wrong).  We’ve been shamed for using accessible bathrooms because we don’t ‘look’ physically disabled, patronised by people who have spoken to our parents or partners as they just assume that we are unable to contribute to a conversation ourselves, and we’ve even had to leave dates with very hot men on them because, quite frankly, regardless of how beautiful they were, they weren’t up to scratch when it came to empathy and awareness.

But, you know what? These more negative events are genuinely a drop in the ocean compared to the warmth and welcoming attitude of many we experience on a daily basis.  It’s not unusual for members of the public to be helpful and supportive when needed.  Just last week, a stranger got off the tube and waited for the next one to ensure that one of our colleagues was able to get herself and her bags onto the platform with ease.  Those we have trained have gone out of their way to contact us and let us know what a positive difference our training has made to how they are performing in their roles and, as well as hot but uneducated and absolutely-not-right dates, we’ve found partners who absolutely ‘get it’ and put those who don’t to shame. 

As far as we’re concerned, it’s human nature to mess up and make mistakes sometimes, but good intentions are everything when considering what you say and do around others.  That’s why we were saddened to read Spikes – and other ways disabled people combat unwanted touching.on the BBC website recently. It documents the experiences of several disabled people who have been touched without their consent by non-disabled members of the public, from bus drivers to fellow commuters, and gone to some pretty extreme lengths to discourage it, including placing spikes on the handles of their wheelchairs which, although not capable of puncturing the skin, are pretty clear in the vibe that they give off.

There’s been times when we’ve also wanted to use the #JustAskDontGrab hashtag: when taxi drivers have hauled us up dangerously steep ramps without our permission, for example.  We really do understand the frustration and fear that unwanted, and unnecessary, attention can cause. But we also regularly hear the stories of disabled people who are craving understanding and interaction, and of non-disabled people who want to learn and be educated.

Where’s the middle line, or the happy medium? Isn’t it a shame that a wheelchair user needs spikes to feel safe but, at the same time, is shutting off the opportunity to educate people whose behaviour she desperately wants to change? 

People don’t learn and alter their ways if they are never told that what they are doing, however well intentioned, could be done better. To spread kindness and understanding, shouldn’t we be displaying it ourselves? 

Both literally and metaphorically, maybe we should soften our spikes a little too.

Enhance the UK CEO awarded for her work with disabled people

By | Accessibility, Business, Disability, News, Workplace

CEO of charity named in the Shaw Trust Power 100 list

Jennie Williams, founder and CEO of Enhance the UK, a charity which aims to challenge perceptions of disability through its campaigning work and its disability awareness training has been named in the prestigious Shaw Trust Power 100 List. Now in its fifth year the Power 100 List celebrates the achievements of individuals who strive to break down barriers around disability to create a more inclusive world.

Jennie and her team of freelance disabled trainers’ campaign to change public perceptions of what disabled people can do by delivering insightful and confidence boosting disability awareness training for public and private sector organisations.

She said “One in five working people in the UK have a disability which is a fact that surprises many people. I’m a CEO and mum of two and whilst my degenerative hearing loss means I Skype instead of phone, and lip read instead of hear each word, it doesn’t stop me adding value to businesses I work with, the teams I lead or the community I live in. It’s wonderful to be recognised in the Shaw Trust Power 100 List as hopefully it challenges people’s perceptions of disability and highlights the need for more open conversations, training and inclusivity in business, education and communities.”

Working with organisations such as the BBC, Premier League Football Clubs, galleries, schools, Northern Rail and Members of Parliament Jennie believes that open discussion and tackling the issue head on is the key to overcoming unnecessary barriers and outdated thinking around disability.

Jennie set up Enhance The UK after working in the care sector and becoming frustrated with the lack of practical information and support available for people who wanted to know more about communicating with disabled people both professionally and personally.

Jennie explains:

 “People with a disability have the same hopes and dreams as everyone else, from climbing the career ladder, to travelling the world or finding someone special to share their life with. The biggest barrier we face is poor communication and limited understanding but that shouldn’t stand in the way of achieving our ambitions. Let’s work together to share ideas and knowledge, learn from each other and together we can all benefit from living and working in an inclusive society.”

ENDS

Notes to editors:

  1. Enhance The UK is a charity run by disabled people. We want to change the way people view disability and for disabled people to be active and equal members of society. We do this by supporting businesses to be more inclusive by providing disability awareness training, as well as offering a number of other services and resources.
  2. For more information visit: www.enhancetheuk.org
  3. Photographs available on request
  4. Press enquiries: sam@enhancetheuk.org

About the Shaw Trust Disability Power 100 List

The Shaw Trust Power List is an annual publication of the 100 most influential disabled people in the UK. Since its inception four years ago, the publication has gone from strength to strength. Over the years it has allowed Shaw Trust to encourage businesses, employers and other organisations to reflect on opportunities available for disabled people. The list plays a vital role in providing much needed encouragement to the young and talented leaders of tomorrow, allowing them to see that aspiration and ambition can be fulfilled regardless of disability or impairment.

For more information please visit: www.disabilitypower100.com

a team of people in a workplace setting talking

Attitudes and an Inclusive Workplace

By | Accessibility, Business, Workplace | No Comments

It’s very easy to promise that the government will get 1 million disabled people into work over the next 10 years. This is just really a re-working of their previous claim about bridging the disability employment gap.

We feel that there are a number of underlying issues with this, mostly are to do with attitudes in the workplace. Many companies claim to be inclusive, but what does that really mean? Being inclusive for one person with a specific impairment does not mean that you’ll be inclusive for someone else. There is not one easy fix, but the key here is to assess what needs to change in your organisation first, before thinking about encouraging more disabled people into your company. There are many ways you can look at inclusion, and we believe that the attitudes of staff is one of the key elements.

We have written a number of ‘How to’ guides on our website which give you some helpful hints and tips on how to be inclusive. In the first instance you should read this:

How to actively recruit disabled people which gives you an insight on how to make your employment process more inclusive. Along with that article this one on creating an accessible advert will also give you some helpful tips.

More of our FREE workplace guides can be found here:

http://enhancetheuk.org/enhance/free-resources/

So whilst we applaud the government for taking steps to acknowledge that more needs to be done to encourage disabled people into work, the first steps should be to make sure organisations are being inclusive. It’s not difficult to change the attitudes of your staff, but this is often overlooked for other more tangible aspects. So why not get in touch with us to find out how we can help your organisation become more inclusive, we offer a range of training that will give your staff the confidence to communicate and interact with disabled people.

http://enhancetheuk.org/enhance/training/disability-awareness-training/

Stacks of coins on a black desk

Changes you can make this financial year to help disabled people

By | Accessibility, Business, Disability, Emily Yates | No Comments

A new financial year is upon us! Time for well-intentioned plans and clever spending when it comes to yearly budgets, but what could your business do over the next twelve months to help disabled customers, clients or employees? Here are just a few suggestions:

Swot up on reasonable adjustments.

Thinking of employing somebody with a disability? Adapting your organisation premises to suit their needs does not have to cost the Earth, and you only have to make adjustments that a reasonable (think a ground floor desk space and accessible bathroom for a wheelchair user rather than an incredibly expensive lift to enable them to get to the first floor of the building).

You can find out more about reasonable adjustments by visiting: https://www.gov.uk/reasonable-adjustments-for-disabled-workers

Think of accessibility in meetings, and on your website.

Meeting a potential client for coffee? Have you checked if they need somewhere that’s step-free, has provisions for their guide dog, or a hearing loop installation? Is your website kitted out with British Sign Language videos for the Deaf community, and is it suitable for those who use screen readers? Make sure inclusion is on your mind, just as much as sealing the next business deal is (you’re likely to seal many more business deals if it is!)

Make sure your staff are trained.

Even the most accessible and inclusive venue in the world will not be welcoming to disabled customers if the people who work there aren’t.  Make sure your staff know how to communicate with disabled people by removing the ‘fear factor’ with us! Visit www.enhancetheuk.org to find out more about the training packages we offer.

Interviewing a Deaf person for a job?

By | Accessibility, Business, Disability, How to guide, Workplace | No Comments

INTERVIEWING A DEAF PERSON FOR A JOB? HERE ARE SOME HELPFUL TIPS

• Don’t spend half the allocated time showing your fingerspelling skills that you learnt from a deaf girl at school when you were seven…. Yes this really does happen and the fake smile we have to put on hurts!

• Please avoid talking too slowly and over enunciating your words … it doesn’t help us understand you and you look just like Wallace from Wallace and Gromit!

• Please look at us when you speak to us. If you’re using a BSL interpreter don’t look at them… Errr hello! We’re over here!! Please look at us when you speak to us, you are interviewing us after all!

• Don’t tell us how amazing we are that we have managed to overcome so many challenges. Ok we know we’re fab, you know we’re fab, so give us the Job! Seriously though it sounds like you pity us and no one wants that.

For more information about our disability awareness training please visit enhancetheuk.org, follow us on twitter @enhancetheuk and find us on all social media channels – just search for Enhance the UK!

Meetings and Wheelchair Users… Five Things You Should Know

By | Accessibility, Business, Disability, How to guide, Workplace | One Comment

1. The correct venue is vital…. Inviting a wheelchair user to a business meeting? Think about where might suit them. It’ll need to be step-free, and if your office is on the 4th floor without a lift, the meeting will be a flop before it’s begun!

2. Parking and Public transport … are also very important. Regardless of where you meet, make sure that there’s accessible parking and/or an accessible tube station or bus stop nearby. If all else fails, offer the person an accessible taxi.

3. Accessible Bathrooms …. Everyone gets nervous before a meeting or interview, and there’s NOTHING worse than being unable to relieve yourself because you can’t even swing a cat in the tiny toilet cubicle.

4. Allow time … We live in a very fast world, where deals are made and meetings are over within minutes. Try and leave a bit more time in your diary for a disabled person. It’s nothing to do with sympathy; it will just allow them time to get a coffee, freshen up and settle without feeling it’s a race!

5. Just ask!… Anything you’re unsure of, just ask! Chances are, the wheelchair user will be able to tell you everything you need to know, so you can prepare for the perfect meeting. Good luck!

For more information about our disability awareness training please visit enhancetheuk.org, follow us on twitter @enhancetheuk and find us on all social media channels – just search for Enhance the UK!

Planning a trip in your wheelchair? Read our top tips for a wheelie good time

By | Accessibility, Disability, Emily Yates, How to guide, Lifestyle | No Comments

Five Tips for Wheelie Great Travel

1. Never underestimate the power of planning…. Not all hotels on the Internet really are as wheelchair friendly as they say they are. Do your research and pick up the phone if necessary.

2.Knowing the local lingo always helps … even if it’s the odd ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, or being able to direct a taxi driver ‘left’ or ‘right’, this will make you friends, save you time and money!

3.Checking out transport is a priority …. There are many places that have accessible attraction and accommodations but appalling transport systems. Budget for private drivers or cabs if necessary!

4.Help is more available that you may think … When alone, trying to navigate strange roads, signs and attractions in my wheelchair, I’ve often been inundated with people offering to help me and show me around. Less accessible places can definitely create lasting friendships.

5.Make sure you’re aware of any perks that may come your way… Whether you’re going to a cinema or theme park, alone or with company, it’s very rare that concessions are not available wherever you are in the world. Make sure you use them!!

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