Are you a small or medium-sized business? Let’s talk!

Small business

We have been considering what a package of support could look like for small and medium sized businesses with under 250 employees (SMEs). Before we go any further we would like to hear from SME businesses themselves about the type of information and support they would value the most from us.

Why is disability important for businesses?

There are over 26 million people in the UK with a disability or long-term condition. They already impact on your business: they are your customers, your employees, your suppliers and your stakeholders.

  • Your customers: The ‘Purple Pound’ is now often referred to as the potential spending power of disabled people. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) reports that households with a disabled person have a combined income of £249 billion after housing costs. There is evidence to show people with disabilities are often ‘repeat’ customers when they get the service and products that meets their personalised needs.
  • Your employees: All businesses need to remove barriers to employment and career progression to ensure they are recruiting from the widest pool of talent available. They should also observe best practice in terms of support, retention and progression of all their staff, including those with disabilities and long term conditions.


What do we need from the research?

This is a piece of developmental research and not a sales call. This is an exciting project for Business Disability Forum and any help you can give us in terms of ideas for further development will be greatly appreciated.

Ideally we would like to speak to someone in a senior managerial position in your organisation with responsibility for your employees or general business development for 30 minutes over the phone. Karen Cutts, Research and Insights Manager at Business Disability Forum,  will be undertaking the interviews as tele-depths. We can schedule the interview at a time that suits you.

If you are happy to help us please contact Business Disability Forum directly on the email address below to say you have opted in to the research. We will then select a number of businesses to take part and be in touch to set up a time and give more details.

Telephone Karen Cutts on: 020 7089 2482

Email: policy@businessdisabilityforum.org.uk

All your comments will remain anonymous and you will not be identified in any way in the data or report. The report will be for internal use only at Business Disability Forum and their stakeholders who are helping fund and build this service.

We are hoping that interviews would be completed between now and mid-January.

If you have any immediate questions relating to the project please do not hesitate to contact us using the details above.

Thinking globally about disability and business

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Our Global Taskforce met for the first time in September 2018

By Diane Lightfoot, Chief Executive, Business Disability Forum

To mark the United Nations International Day of People with Disabilities (IDPD), I wanted to share some of the things we have been doing at Business Disability Forum over the past few months to get disability on the global stage.

Forty-five per cent of our members are global or have some sort of international presence. Together, they employ over 8 million people across the world. Many have a presence in developing countries where there is a real opportunity to realise the theme for this year’s IDPD: that is, of “Empowering persons with disabilities and ensuring inclusiveness and equality.”

We upped the ante on our global focus in earnest earlier this year, with the launch of our new Global Taskforce, co-chaired by Shell, back in April. Since then, it has developed into a lively and collaborative community of global businesses including Accenture, Barclays, GSK, EY, Microlink, Unilever, KPMG and more. As with all our Taskforces, it’s a forum where organisations can share best practices and also challenges – a “safe space” to talk about what’s not working and how we might work collectively to fix it.

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Our Global Framework, released in July, uses a scoring system to assess practice

When I first spoke to Partners to moot the idea of a global taskforce, they told me that they didn’t want “another talking shop”. So, the taskforce has been deliberately “action – task!” oriented. We began with the development of our new Global Business Disability Framework, based on our UK based Disability Standard and reframed as a “maturity model” as a self-assessment tool for global leads. We were delighted to launch the Framework at the UK Government’s Global Disability Summit back in July 2018 and it is now being used by global organisations to measure and improve their corporate approach to disability inclusion.

Next year will see the taskforce publish research, create a comprehensive suite of guidance tailored for global business and develop the next iteration of the Global Framework.

We’ve also been on tour! In the last few months we’ve spoken at conferences and held meetings in France, Switzerland, Germany and the Netherlands.

I and my colleagues Brendan and Delphine were very pleased to attend the ILO Global Business Disability Network (GBDN) conference in Geneva last month where I presented our Framework and continued to build our collaboration with the ILO. We really enjoy our partnership with the GBDN and encourage our members to work with them, especially by using their global presence to support the establishment of national business and disability networks in the countries where they are present. We were really pleased to see the Bangladesh network doing well, a new China network just launched and a network in India due to launch in 2019. With that in mind, we were also delighted to host a delegation from the Ministries of Inclusion, Education and Human Rights in Brazil at our London office.

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The conversation around disability is shifting to cities all over the world

I was also lucky enough to join our member CAFE – the Centre for Access to Football in Europe – in Bilbao a couple of weeks ago to speak at their triennial conference at the San Mames stadium. It was a fabulous event in a stunning city and a privilege to talk to such a diverse audience about how the beautiful game can make a real difference to disability employment.

Fittingly, the most recent meeting of our Global Taskforce was on Friday (30 November) hosted by our Founder Leader Barclays at which we discussed strategic approaches to improving disability inclusion globally and how to communicate effectively with a global internal and external audience. Central to this is our partnership with and support to the #Valuable campaign which is seeking to get disability on the agenda of global boards worldwide and we were delighted when Unilever CEO Paul Polman announced our collaboration on stage at One Young World in October.

So, as we celebrate IDPD today with a whole host of events across the world, let’s hope that this is just the start of really shifting the dial on the inclusion of disabled people worldwide.

For more information on Business Disability Forum’s Global Taskforce and the Global Business Disability Framework, visit: https://businessdisabilityforum.org.uk/membership/global-taskforce.

Our film festival is nearly here!

By Ebunola Adenipekun

We’re looking forward to hosting our Partners, Members, guests and filmmaking superstars at Business Disability Forum’s Film Festival 2018, supported by Barclays.

We set out a 7 day film challenge earlier this year, themed around “going places”, in terms of travel, career progression and accessibility. The selected finalists of the challenge will show their films at the Film Festival at KPMG on Wednesday 20 June, 2018.

This event will showcase how the next generation of disabled talent perceive and overcome challenges at work, on holiday, and in other areas of life. The winner will be announced on the day.

We took some time out to speak to the finalists to find out what inspired them enter the festival:

Kenny Rei and the Spicy Ladies in a meeting

Kenny Rei and the Spicy Ladies

‘Kenny Rei and the Spicy Ladies’
Group name: Diversity vs Adversity
University: Manchester Metropolitan University
Course: BA (Hons) Film and TV Production

Bettina Tóth

Please can you tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Tina Toth and I am the writer and director of ‘Kenny Rei and Spicy Ladies’. I am a second year student at The Manchester Film School and I’d like to work in Film and TV dramas once I finish my studies. I have a really artistic approach to filmmaking; I also do oil paintings and graphic design as well. I am 27 years old and although I live in Manchester, I am originally from Hungary. I am a fan of cinema, arts, literature and video games. When my studies allow it, I like to travel and broaden my knowledge with the culture of foreign countries.

What made you decide to enter the film challenge?
I quite liked the idea of making a film in a relatively short time, and I wanted to try if we can manage to complete everything by the deadline. I was also hoping to get my work seen by the jury and make an impression. Another reason was that we were allowed to experiment with the topic and the way we’d like to express our thoughts about disability.

What was your inspiration behind the film?
Our film depicts life with ADHD and I personally know and have worked with young people who were diagnosed with hyperactivity. I wanted to show that even though they have difficulties with certain tasks, they are able to perform and even outperform their colleagues. I find people with ADHD incredibly creative, humorous, and inspiring. We wanted to film something that shows what’s going on inside their heads, something that is uplifting but thought-provoking, too, at the same time.

When it comes to going places, what has been your biggest barrier and do you feel you have overcome it?
The aim of our film was to show that disability shouldn’t be barrier having success in your workplace or moving up on the career ladder. I think it all depends on the attitude of employers and other employees to make a more comfortable and welcoming workplace for people with either mental or physical disability. We are studying to be filmmakers, and we were taught to be able to bring together all kinds of personalities and talents, and then make something great together. Every workplace should have the same mentality; appreciate the diversity of their employees, use it to their advantage, and then make something great in the end of the day.
Miguel Ramos

Please can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Spanish born and raised, I moved to the UK in 2013. I worked full-time in a restaurant for more than 2 years, until I decided to stop and go back to education – to pursue my dream job! In 2015, I joined the Manchester Film School and now I’m about to graduate from university.

What made you decide to enter the film challenge?
I am always looking for new exciting opportunities to develop my working skills. When I read the basis of the contest and saw that there was a Film Festival in London at the end of the road and so many Industry Professionals, I knew immediately I had to give it a go. Plus, the social theme was another big incentive. My mother has Polio and I’ve always been very sensitized with the difficulties she has to face in her daily routines.

What was your inspiration behind the film?
At the beginning, I wanted to talk about Autism. However, after doing some research we realised it was quite a sensitive matter which would require more pre-production in order to do things right. Tina, our talented Director, came up with the idea of following the daily life at work of a fictional character who has ADHD – giving it a fresh positive look, yet adding the uplifting message promoting diversity in our society.

When it comes to going places, what has been your biggest barrier and do you feel you have overcome it?
Since English is not my mother language, the biggest challenge I had to face happened in 2013 when I moved to the UK – getting used to a new culture and new ways to express my emotions was really hard at some point. However, with time, emotional intelligence and my determination to move forward, I achieved a good balance in my life – and I’ve even finished a university course thanks to the skills I acquired since I moved to England.

 

Mike in a mobility scooter

Mike

‘Mike’
Group name: Edgar Scukins
University: Manchester Metropolitan University
Course: Filmmaking

Edgar Scukins

Please can you tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Edgar Scukins. I am from Latvia, but I live, study and work in Manchester.

What made you decide to enter the film challenge?
Yes, one of the main reasons was to share Mike’s story. I am helping him out with mobility scooter repairs. I have known him for over a year. And since the first day I met him, I thought that it would be useful to show people how many things one can achieve, even when diagnosed with cerebral palsy.

What was your inspiration behind the film?
Mike inspires me every day. He is always smiling and I have never seen him sad.  When I am struggling with something and begin to complain, I feel slightly ashamed, because I remember Mike immediately.

When it comes to going places, what has been your biggest barrier and do you feel you have overcome it?
I think that the biggest challenge for Mike when he is going places is when something goes wrong with his mobility scooter and he needs to ask for help from people that are passing by. It has happened with him many times. I think that it is still a problem, but since technology is advancing fast, mobility scooters will be made more reliable.

 

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Barrier

‘Barrier’
Group name: Wolf Pack
University: University of Wolverhampton
Course: Film & TV Production/Video and Film Production

William Horsefield

Please can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I first began filmmaking at 12 years old making short films on my mobile phone. I found my passion in filmmaking and studied online about making Visual effects. I spent 6 years mastering VFX and gained lot of experience as I had made over 170 short films before I enrolled into Creative Media Production Extended Diploma Level 3 in York College. I submitted my short films to films festivals and won many awards. In 2014, I submitted a pitch idea to the film competition, Dream To Screen and my idea, ‘Welcome to the Deaf World’ was selecting by the actress Helen Mirren as well as film and TV industry experts. I am veteran of 48/72 hours film challenge as I won most of these competitions that I entered before I enrolled into the Video and Film Production from the University of Wolverhampton.

What made you decide to enter the film challenge?
I love entering the many film competitions as I can but this competition is a bit different and It gave me a chance to make a short film about deaf or other disability awareness in workplace or business. I attended this competition on last year, I noticed that some people in the audience were business owners so I wanted to use my short film to show them that it was not that difficult to work with deaf people.

What was your inspiration behind the film?
My inspiration was coming from some images from google show the art of depression monsters who follow humans and some of deaf people’s experience in working inspired me as well.

When it comes to going places, what has been your biggest barrier and do you feel you have overcome it?
I think meeting with new people who have no deaf awareness is my biggest challenge because when my BSL interpreter is ill, arrives late or doesn’t show this can cause more awkwardness between me and new people. This make it difficult to work together or communicate so, I always pick writing as communication method to talk them but it is very slow and sometimes some people’s handwriting is hard for me to read.

Samuel Ash 

Please can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I am currently studying Film & TV Production at the University of Wolverhampton to become a director or a producer. I have a passion for filmmaking and photography, when I grew up enjoying watching films and taking photos, it merged into filmmaking. Adding to my geekiness, I also really enjoy sci-fiction films!

What made you decide to enter the film challenge?
This festival gives an opportunity for us, students and with disabilities to be involved and encouraged us to create a film about our experience and how our film can be assisted to improve access and awareness of Deaf people. It is fun to be part of the relatable challenge with fellow filmmakers!

What was your inspiration behind the film?
The festival gave us the opportunity to create a film that relate our own experience and how we can show the solution to break the barriers deaf people face in their everyday lives. The film is about the barrier, and how it affects Deaf people to get employment. We wanted to create a positive attitude by adding humour.

When it comes to going places, what has been your biggest barrier and do you feel you have overcome it?
The barrier is always communication. It frustrates me when I am not able to communicate to collaborate with hearing peers smoothly which shutter my career process and opportunity to contribute.

I have to overcome this by pushing myself to approach a hearing person and communicate them through gesturing. If it failed, it is OK and I have to figure out another way to communicate them which can be writing down or any communication tool that it may work with this person. Confidence is vital.

I think of the quote: “Communication is the key to personal and career success” Paul J. Meyer.


We’d like to thank all the entrants for taking part and a special thanks to our finalists and our sponsors Barclays.

We look forward to sharing the films!

If you’d like to attend, you can find the details for the festival here.

Looking beyond labels: A round-up

By Ebunola Adenipekun

“Something like 96% of disabilities are not physical and yet there is little understanding of what a non‑visible disability is and how to support someone who has one.”

This was one of the thought-provoking points raised by our CEO Diane Lightfoot at Looking Beyond Labels, an event that was created to help people understand and support those with disabilities which are not visible.

 

CEO Diane Lightfoot (right) with delegates. Photography by Paul Demuth, Demuth Photography

CEO Diane Lightfoot (right) with delegates. Photography by Paul Demuth, Demuth Photography

In recent years, progress has been made with regards to a change in attitudes towards mental health conditions in and out of the workplace, but there is still much work to be done.

The event, in May, was hosted at Deloitte, New Street Square, London and sponsored by Matchware  and chaired by Bela Gor, Head of Legal and Campaigns at Business Disability Forum.

Bela Gor, Head of Campaigns, Resources & Legal at Business Disability Forum

Bela Gor, Head of Campaigns, Resources & Legal at Business Disability Forum

Topics ranged from mental health to inclusiveness of a broad range of non-visible disabilities.

One of the panelists, Angela Matthews, Advice Service & Policy Manager at Business Disability Forum tackled the question of what being inclusive meant when sharing a non-visible disability:For me I think being inclusive gives people a choice. I think it is quite easy to assume that being inclusive means everyone talking about their condition… what inclusion is really about is make sure that someone who don’t want to talk about their condition can remain not talking about it and get adjustments and support at the same time.”

Daniel Wiles, keynote speaker for the day

Daniel Wiles, keynote speaker for the day

Daniel Wiles, keynote speaker for the day, shared his story on his diagnosis of dyslexia as a working adult, stating: “Following [my diagnosis], I had some coaching to help me in my role and that was absolutely fantastic, it really helped my confidence and I introduced strategies of how to organise my thoughts and my work, my thoughts and my work.

“I changed what I wrote, using lots of bullet points. Mind maps to get out my ideas and opinions. I used the ‘read and write’ software and other products available to help check my written work.

“It was a natural progression into a learning and development role where I spend my time now talking to people about disability.”

Conversations about mental health

One of the most powerful points of the day was from Jules Lockett from London Ambulance who said: “Those patients that ring 999 for help, they get the best care. There has been a real cultural change for us to accept that mental health is what we have all experienced. We just don’t like to say those words, ‘mental health…’

Jules Lockett from London Ambulance

Jules Lockett from London Ambulance

“Now [the term] is very common place, [before] people were sort of quite derogatory of people with mental health, ‘oh I have another one of those people on the phone’ and then they would talk about it in the rest and relaxation area. Now we have staff to challenge that and say ‘if you don’t understand that problem then find out before you comment on it’.

“There has been a real shift change for us.  But it is about saying to staff, that it is OK to not be OK, and we have, we follow the “are you OK?” campaign, which was initiated in Australia, I changed it into You Matter, for me our staff matter.  Sometimes we don’t say that, we can’t go up to somebody and sort of say to them, you know you really do matter, without them saying OK what do you want.  I’m not coming in for another shift.  But it is trying to say to people we genuinely care, we are a public organisation, we don’t have a lot of money to hold well‑being events.  If anyone has followed me or followed some of the Time to Change information, I managed to get Prince Harry, he wrote to me and asked to see what I was doing, and I ranged a whole day on £38.64, so if the NHS want to know how to save money, then I’m the recruit.  So, it is really not about thousands of pounds, it is about people’s time, staff want to know they feel valued.  Staff, especially when they are in a public organisation just want to know that people value what they are doing, and it is appreciated sometimes.  That had a positive impact on their mental health.”

CEO Diane Lightfoot. Photography by Paul Demuth, Demuth Photography

CEO Diane Lightfoot.

Diane talked about how important it was to make it easier to have conversations about mental health: “…there is undoubtedly many people in this room here today who have a mental health condition or other disability or protected characteristic in this room alone, and I count myself among them.

“How can we change the narrative? It is partly about language, we need to move away, not only from the subconscious language of them and us, I hope it is subconscious, also from the language we often hear about having to declare or disclose disability.

“I often say you would declare or disclose a criminal record or points on your driving license or you are smuggling contraband or spending too much on your tax repurposes, it is immediately a negative perception, it is important to use language that people feel comfortable in telling you they have a disability and asking for the support they need.”

“The other things that occur to me were we see very often that managers are less confident around making adjustments around neurodiversity and mental health conditions than they are with physical disabilities.  I think for physical disability the confident people were only about 54% so, the bar isn’t very high, there is a long way to go.  Around adjustments we get asked a lot about passports and we are starting to see organisations looking not just at passports within their own organisation, but also where organisations, employees are working on clients premises, making sure they can get that support.”

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Networking at the event

The event was followed by networking with ran well into a few hours as people keenly talked about how they can put practices in place, the work of Business Disability Forum continues, without labels.

For upcoming events, visit here.

Business Disability Forum’s big day out – film festival winners

By Ebunola Adenipekun

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After months of planning, the day of our Technology Taskforce film festival finally arrived and it was truly an amazing event! (Even if we do say so ourselves!)

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Generously hosted by KPMG at their Canary Wharf offices and sponsored by Enterprise Rent-A-Car, the event saw the outcome of the previously set 72 hour film challenge to university students who were asked: “Business, technology, disability: how does technology showcase disabled talent?”. The challenge called on students from across the country to create a film that embodied the brief. Prizes were donated by Barclays, Microlink, Microsoft, Santander – and KPMG who gave a top of the range laptop!

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As well as showcasing great film, we also wanted the event to provoke thoughts about the next generation of disabled people and as they prepare to enter the world of work with a fresh set of ideas, perspectives and expectations, are we as employers ready to harness this new pool of talent, or will existing barriers mean that we miss the opportunity?

Our winners!

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In third place was ‘The Wheelchair Man’, by Trine Hagan, Gavin Roberts and Joey Thompson from the University of Creative Arts. It told the story of student Joey who has  adjusted to life with a disability while at university both by getting used to assistive technology and with the support of others through online spaces such as YouTube. They won 2 Amazon Echo dots and an Amazon Firestick TV.

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The runner up was ‘Why I Make My Life So Hard’ by Oliver Lam-Watson of Kingston University, which came from a question the filmmaker asked himself about carrying heavy and often clunky filming gear around in his determination to be an influential filmmaker. He won Wembley tickets, Amazon Echo dot, as well as a Motorola Moto Smart watch.

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And *drumroll please*…

….first place was given to Wolf pack a talented team of two Wolverhampton University students, William Horsefield and Samuel Ash whose film ‘Big Day’ examined how assistive technology could help someone move into the world of work, through interviews and beyond. The film also explored the creation of an app in which sign language could be converted to text on a phone. An exciting prospect!

Wolf pack, won 1st place receiving an  Amazon Echo, Lenovo X260 Laptop, XBOX One S 1TB and Minecraft games and an Apple TV.

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Jeff A. King, Assistant Vice President, European IT, Enterprise Rent-A-Car said: “We’ve teamed up with the Business Disability Forum’s Technology Taskforce for a unique event. It’s a Film Festival that provides a look at the world through the eyes of young disabled students preparing to go for their first jobs. It goes without saying that workplaces need to understand each new generation of graduates. After all they are the people who will ultimately shape the organisation and ensure it meets the future with fresh ideas and remains relevant. More immediately, this is about getting the best out of every employee in the organisation and utilising the most diverse possible pool of talent.”

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As well as the three talented winners, there were also short films from our hosts KPMG who screened ‘No More Awkwardness’ which highlighted how within their organisation the conversation of disability is normalised.

Our sponsors Enterprise Rent-A-Car screened their film ‘The Blind Hike’ which was a tale of a father and son who use their rented cars to explore the world.


We also screened our own film ‘Inside Nutmeg House’ – taking a look at why we do what we do through a day in the life of a Disability Consultant and a Relationship Manager.

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This film festival had a great turn out from our membership, so a big thank you to all who came along to support and we very much look forward to seeing you next year!

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Why every employer should see the films at the Technology Taskforce Film Festival

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By Jeff A. King, Assistant Vice President, European IT, Enterprise Rent-A-Car

We’ve teamed up with the Business Disability Forum’s Technology Taskforce for a unique event. It’s a Film Festival that provides a look at the world through the eyes of young disabled students preparing to go for their first jobs.

It goes without saying that workplaces need to understand each new generation of graduates. After all they are the people who will ultimately shape the organisation and ensure it meets the future with fresh ideas and remains relevant. More immediately, this is about getting the best out of every employee in the organisation and utilising the most diverse possible pool of talent.

Therefore it is a given that workplaces need to understand disabled employees and candidates, for the same reason. It’s the right thing to do and means your business is fair and open, but, more importantly, it also means that every employee has the chance to succeed and achieve their full potential in an environment where they are valued and respected.

Judging films for this year’s Film Festival has been particularly interesting because this new generation of disabled talent has grown up or come of age with hard-fought legislation such as the DDA and Equality Act already in place.

This means they will bring a formidable range of new ideas and approaches to the workplace, but also that they will expect and want new things from their employer. This shouldn’t be a source of concern for recruiters – it should be treated as a real opportunity to develop the way we work and problem-solve.

So it’s just down to us as organisations to rise to the challenge.

Some of the most inspiring aspects of the Film Festival entries were the ways they showed how understanding and adjustments, whether this was by entire organisations or just by individuals working together, can break down any barrier.

We specifically wanted to see the entrants weave in the theme of technology and another great thing to see was how technology has enabled not only disabled people, but entire workforces to operate in a more accessible way.

Seeing the work of these talented young filmmakers, I am reminded of how successful this approach was in one of our interns, who shared her story on our website.

Mollie recently started with us as a Management Trainee Intern at our Midlands group and her experience shows how simple adjustments to the work environment can enable a talented candidate to shine. She immediately felt able to share the fact that she had dyslexia when she came to work for Enterprise Rent-A-Car, and was also secure in the knowledge that she would receive any necessary adjustments in a timely manner.

This meant that a talented new trainee was able to take on every aspect of her new job to the best of her ability, and that there were no barriers when it came to hiring new talent.

758500bf-8d25-49ab-ae05-1ef6f601618bSuccesses like this are among the many reasons why I would like to encourage as many businesses as possible to see these films. Hearing what can help break down barriers for disabled people – be that technology, collaboration or adjustments – in their own words, is something all businesses should do.

We’ll be screening our own film at the Film Festival, ‘Blind Hike’, which I feel sums up what we are hoping to achieve in terms of breaking down barriers: it’s about no experience or achievement being off limits and realising the potential that everyone has.

Making sure that ‘digital-first’ is also ‘accessible-first’

By Lucy Ruck

Delegates at the Accessibility in the Digital Space event

The Accessibility in the Digital Space event on 28 September

There’s no question that the main way that employees and customers alike will deal with most organisations today will be digitally.

But the question remains: what does this mean for accessibility? So this is what we asked at our Accessibility in the Digital Space event which I was lucky enough to lead on Wednesday 28 September.

These events are enormously rewarding in terms of the success stories and good practice we hear about from BDF’s Members and Partners and particularly the sheer passion many of them have for making their websites and IT systems fully accessible.

Indeed what emerged very quickly at Wednesday’s event was the importance of digital accessibility for organisations. Nigel Fletcher of Tesco, who kindly hosted the event, estimated that around 20 per cent of Tesco’s 500,000 employees have a disability.

The event gave us the first glimpse of the Click-Away Pound research which BDF have produced with Freeney Williams and which will show the costs to businesses of users leaving inaccessible websites.

What we know already is stark: that over 70 per cent of disabled people face significant barriers to accessing websites and apps and often give up.

Of course, there are many challenges involved with digital accessibility, not just in terms of working around existing systems but also entrenched ways of thinking. Rick Williams highlighted the need for a change of culture at organisations so that accessibility is approached as a matter of course, rather than being included as an afterthought as often happens at present.

Then there is the sheer scale of the work involved, with Alistair Duggin of the Government Digital Service noting that making the gov.uk site accessible entailed work on some 300,000 pages of web content.

But one of the key points from the discussion was that organisations are rising to the challenge in a big way.

Marianne Matthews and Clare Davidson from Sky highlighted a major shift in the organisation towards embedding accessibility in everything they do. They have built up a massive digital product development team of 650 people to help them do this, tested every digital product with live users and linked accessibility directly in to Sky’s three design principles of ‘brilliantly simple’, ‘beautiful’ and ‘intelligent’.

Meanwhile Will Houston of Enterprise-Rent-A-Car, noted that accessibility for employees is being transformed by allowing employees to personalise the way they work on IT systems. Will also spoke extensively about the tools that the Technology Taskforce has developed, that are really helping him to embed accessibility with their organisation. Signing up to the Accessible Technology Charter and using the Accessibility Maturity Model (AMM), have really helped them to assess where they are and the areas where they need to improve.

So the key theme here is changing the way we think – as we move more and more towards being ‘digital-first’, we should also become ‘accessible-first’.

And it’s great to be part of the discussions that drive that move.

For more information about BDF’s Technology Taskforce please visit www. technologytaskforce.org/