The key barrier that must be highlighted straight away is a lack of awareness. Does every employee or member of your organisation understand what being inclusive means and what your business does to achieve this? It’s only by raising awareness of a problem that it can be properly addressed.
Of course, being aware of a problem is clearly not enough to overcome the challenge itself. Positive change can only happen through being pro-active and demonstrating the necessary leadership to make your organisation more inclusive. If not you, who in your organisation will take a lead on this important matter? Leadership can always be a collaborative effort, but whether collectively or individually, you must develop a system of authority and communication that will address this challenge. Start to have those regular conversations about how you will be more inclusive.
Now that you’ve had put this matter on the agenda, it can still be daunting knowing where to start. Ranging from best practice to new regulations, specialist consultants and ever-expanding technology solutions, sometimes the extent of options and resources available can seem overwhelming. However, by directly engaging with existing customers and groups representing different types of disability, you can gain fantastic insights. This also immediately creates an inclusive design process in developing your services and sets you on the way to being more inclusive.
As you begin to improve the accessibility of your business, budget is still likely to perceived as the greatest barrier. Nearly all organisations will consider the cost of any measures they want to introduce against its benefit, this is entirely normal. But without assessing the measures to be more inclusive, then it can be easy to overlook potential solutions. There is an abundance of free information online about how to be more accessible. Inclusive design approaches to many measures such as providing access information, good communication and choosing the right layout of your space can be done for little or no extra money.
Once you have reviewed the different measures then you will need an action plan to implement and review your improvements. Without a strategy in place then it means it will be very be difficult for you and your customers to maximise the benefits from what you choose to do. A strategy will provide not only a road map for your first steps in becoming more inclusive but also set out how you assess and communicate what you are doing with your customers and staff. This will be critical to produce effective results that inform how well your actions are received and what you will do next.
Removing barriers and being more inclusive is never an instant fix and should always be a continuous process, making sure you are not ignoring the needs of all your potential customers. Listen to the challenges and barriers they face on a daily basis and then design a system where as many people as possible can equally enjoy the services and products you provide.