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How accessible is your business?

accessibility confidence dyslexia dyslexia is my superpower dyslexic thinking entrepreneurs with dyslexia neurodiversity Jun 01, 2022

At RWC we have been discussing ways that we can make it easier for EVERYONE to access the services we offer, and we’d like to share what we’ve learned so far, in this month’s blog.

The British disability forum defines accessibility in business as:

  • “… offering all information in a consistent and open format, ensuring access to everyone and making sure your brand is responsive and reachable to all of society.
  • … opening the doors and welcoming customers into a conversation with your brand. If customers have a great experience, they build an emotional connection that fosters brand loyalty.
  • … communicating that you are understanding, compassionate, considerate, empathetic and caring. Customers today want to do business with brands that put their customers’ needs before profit and show pride in doing so.”

Why would you want to make your products and services easier to access?

The World Health Organisation estimates that 15% of the world’s population has some form of a disability.  Apart from it being a legal requirement to have not only easy accessibility in our physical premises but in the UK our digital assets (website etc) also need to comply with the Equality Act 2010. The act safeguards all individuals from unfair treatment and promotes a fair and more equal society. Website owners are required to make 'reasonable adjustments' to make their sites accessible to people with disabilities.  At RWC don’t want to assume anything and we want to ensure everyone can benefit from what we offer.

What are the ways that you can embrace accessibility in your business?

Here are 5 areas to consider…

  1. Start by understanding how your customer’s access your products now, document all the touchpoints in your customer’s journey. Then consider different ways each touchpoint could be adapted for a more inclusive experience.
  2. Talk to your employees (or outsourced team) about their needs. Promote an inclusive culture.
  3. Employ a diverse workforce. (Read on for more information.)
  4. Explore new technologies to improve the delivery of services, then train staff with these new skills throughout your organisation.
  5. Consider who could adopt the role of accessibility advocate in your business.

Not all disabilities are visible, and it’s estimated that approximately 1 in 7 people in the UK are neurodivergent. The means that their brain functions, learns and processes information differently than others.  These differences should be accepted, respected, and recognised, alongside any other human variation such as ethnicity or gender.

There are 7 main types of neurodivergence, these include: -

  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) affects about 4% of the UK population, ADHD can cause issues with impulse control, attention, and concentration.
  • Autism affects approximately 1-2% of the UK population.  Autism can affect the way someone perceives the world. People with autism can find social interaction and change difficult and uncomfortable.
  • Dyslexia is a condition that gives someone language processing difficulties that cause issues with reading, writing, and spelling. (See Emma’s blog about Dyslexia here)
  • Dyspraxia affects around 5% of the UK population, People with Dyspraxia may seem clumsy, disorganised, and have trouble with structure.
  • Dyscalculia is a specific learning disorder with impairments in learning basic arithmetic facts, processing numbers and performing accurate and fluent calculations.
  • Dysgraphia is a specific learning disability that affects written expression. Dysgraphia can appear as difficulties with spelling, poor handwriting, and trouble putting thoughts on paper.
  • Tourette’s Syndrome is a neurological condition where there are sounds and movements (known as tics) that they can’t control

Every condition covered in the list above can have its own set of challenges.  However, neurodivergent people have unique skills and ways of seeing the world, which can benefit businesses, in various ways.  For example. Hewlett Packard Enterprise recently launched a neurodiversity program and has placed more than 30 participants in software-testing roles at Australia’s Department of Human Services Initial feedback shows that the organisation’s neurodiverse testing teams are 30% more productive than neurotypical teams.

Those with neurological differences may also have mental health issues, including depression and stress.  As businesses we need to ensure we encourage an accepting and nurturing working environment for all our employees and our customers, whether they are neurodiverse or neurotypical. 

Here are 3 ideas for you to consider:

  • Improve wellbeing in your business, make work/life balance a reality.
  • Encourage openness. If we treat every individual equally, it will be easier for everyone to support each other.
  • Inclusivity. Embrace everyone’s differences and the way each individual can enhance the business.

As business owners we can lead by example and demonstrate an attitude of respect and equality.  If you’d like to learn more about this topic, we are starting a business book club in June.  Our first book is written by Victoria Honeybourne who is a senior advisory teacher, trainer and writer, she has authored a number of books and articles on education, psychology and society. Her specialisms are autism (especially in females), neurodiversity, communication, positive psychology and inclusion. 

We’ll be reading Victoria’s book: The Neurodiverse Workplace: An Employer’s Guide to Managing and Working with Neurodivergent Employees, Clients and Customers and we’ll be sharing our thoughts in our private LinkedIn groupDo get in touch if you’d like more details, we’d love you to join us!