Last year Naidex asked our followers for their experiences with accessibility in the UK. Sadly, 97% of people voted that accessibility in the UK must be improved. A #NaidexChat which discussed the key to improving accessibility came back with the same response over and over again: the answer lies in increased employment for those with a disability.
Did you know that in the UK, if you have a disability, you are twice as likely to be unemployed as your able-bodied counterpart? The UK is clearly facing two huge problems when it comes to accessibility and employment - and people with disabilities are being failed across the board.
But the situation is not hopeless. The UK can work to improve accessibility for all its citizens (whether that means those in wheelchairs, people with vision or hearing impairments, or little people) by tackling its employment issue.
We need to move away from a narrative which suggests that hiring disabled people is a good deed, a nice thing to do in a business which is already successful, an added bonus for a company. It completely devalues everything disabled people bring to the workplace. Hiring disabled people is not a good deed - hiring disabled people is a good business decision.
Businesses benefit when they have a more diverse workforce - just look at Google! They have specifically designed a programme to hire from more diverse backgrounds because they understand this principle.
Businesses who do not employ disabled or impaired workers are doing themselves a huge disservice. By hiring only able-bodied people a business can only benefit from the ideas and experiences of the able-bodied - and innovation will stall.
If businesses hire people with disabled people they will design products which are better and importantly - more accessible - than companies who do not. A company who hires disabled people is also more likely to have a premise which is more accessible full stop, opening up more opportunity for meetings with disabled clients.
By closing the gap between able-bodied and disabled employees, it is likely that more and more products and experiences will be designed with accessibility being a key factor from the first step. And really, when it comes to improving accessibility, inclusive design is the first stepping stone.
At Naidex this year, we are excited to have Evenbreak’s Jane Hatton speaking on “What makes disabled people such fantastic employees”. Evenbreak is an award-winning social enterprise run by and for disabled people, with the aim of aiding employers attract talented disabled employees, so Jane is exceptionally well-informed in this area.
If you want to hear more on this subject, make sure you register for your free ticket for Naidex 45, and attend Jane’s seminar this March.