Fresh impetus on disability issues

first_imgBusiness in the Community   Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. Fresh impetus on disability issuesOn 1 May 2003 in Personnel Todaycenter_img Related posts:No related photos. Organisations face strict penalties and public censure if they fail toaccommodate a diverse workforce and customer base. Margaret Kubicek assessesthe challenges for training professionalsIgnorance, fear and prejudice are still the main reasons why more disabledpeople are not in work, according to research by national disability charityScope. Even in this era of diversity awareness, it seems, disability is too oftenoverlooked. But employers will soon have to do more than just talk the talkwhen it comes to addressing disability in the workplace. The final tranche ofthe Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) comes into effect from October 2004,requiring all service providers to make their premises accessible to disabledpeople. Meanwhile, the Disability Rights Commission is launching aninvestigation into whether websites are accessible by those with disabilities. To highlight the impending Act and to mark the European Year for People withDisabilities, we ask what employers are doing to train their people to workmore effectively with disabled colleagues and customers. Susan Scott-Parker Chief exec, Employers Forum on Disability Too often disability is an add-on. If you do any training across thebusiness, there should be a disability dimension. When organisations commissionexternal trainers, they fail to compel those trainers to be disability aware.Trainers need to know how to adapt training techniques and technologies sodisabled delegates are not disadvantaged. The best trainers are always disabledpeople themselves. Margie Woodward Campaigns officer, Scope Where disability training used to be a kind of luxury if people felt theywanted to do it, they’re now going to have to take it seriously on the samebasis as race and sexual orientation, because if you don’t get it right, youcan be hit by the DDA. David Grayson Director, Business in the Community Thriving on diversity makes good business sense and is an integral part ofgood business – what some call ‘responsible business’ or corporate socialresponsibility (CSR), As more and more businesses – large and small – adoptresponsible business practice, we have to ensure disability is not theCinderella of CSR. Andrew Wakelin Senior manager, diversity, Lloyds TSB Lloyds TSB was the first private-sector organisation to put in place abespoke career development programme for disabled staff to enable them to feelconfident about applying for more senior roles. The trainers are disabledpeople, giving staff the opportunity to really discuss fears and barriers totheir progression. There’s a lot involved in helping staff to manage theirdisability and the impact it may have on others. David Hart Head of external affairs and research, UNUM Provident Together with RADAR – an umbrella charity for disabled people – we arerunning a mentoring programme aimed at disabled people aged 15 to 30. We wantto get them before they are too far down their career path. We are providingmentors – and not just from UNUM Provident. The disabled person benefits fromthe knowledge and work skills of their mentor. In turn, the mentor gets abetter understanding of disability. Joan Stuart UK Employer relations manager, Scottish Power We have developed training programmes for our people at the sharp end of thecustomer interface. We’ve developed an interactive programme with RNIB on theinterface with blind customers and we’re planning something similar with deafpeople. There are so many kinds of customers and we’re in a market wherethere’s a lot of competition. Anything we can do to keep the edge on customerswill help. Sue O’Neill Social responsibility manager/diversity, B&Q You must consult – every disabled person has different requirements. In 1998,B&Q ran a series of focus groups with people with disabilities. Every storewe’ve built since has been designed to be fully accessible. But, we knew thatwithout any training they wouldn’t be used properly, so we held disabilitytraining around customer service. Terry Day Equality champion, London Underground Our training is focusing on the core concept of the DDA, ensuring managersunderstand the duty to make reasonable adjustments and remove barriers to allowdisabled people to do their job. This could mean physical access, but is morelikely to be other practical measures such as employing a sign languageinterpreter, or allowing disabled staff to arrive a bit later to avoid the rushhour. Key contacts for best practiceThe Employers Forum on Disability –the authoritative voice on disability as it affects employers – has a trainingneeds analysis tool available for organisations in the form of a bookletentitled Promoting Change. The forum also maintains a list of trainingproviders recommended by its members ( Other usefulinformation for employers can be found at:Government Disability Unit’s site European Year of People with Disabilities  Disability Rights Commission  Department for Work and Pensions  RADAR The Disability Network  Scope read more