Why businesses should make disability inclusion a priority

How supporting disability inclusion helps businesses and the community.

Jordan Freeman
6 min

Inclusion is a term that has become increasingly popular in the past few years. But what does disability inclusion actually mean? And why should businesses care about it? 

For businesses, inclusion is about creating an environment where everyone can feel comfortable as employees or as customers. In other words, it's about making sure that people with disabilities are not just welcome but also included as full members of your organisation and customer base.

But disability inclusion shouldn’t be a focus for businesses because it is a popular topic or as a box ticking exercise, inclusion is an opportunity to improve not only your business but to also ensure that you are benefiting your community.

Businesses supporting social and community belonging.

Inclusion and belonging are frequently framed in relation to physical spaces, venues and locations (often also known as 'accessibility'). But social and community inclusion is also key to increasing disability inclusion in our communities.

Social inclusion is about creating a space for all members of society, regardless of their ability or impairment. By building an inclusive community that values diversity and difference, you can ensure that everyone feels welcome, included and respected.

Community is not just about the physical space where people live but also the group of people who share its characteristics or interests.

But it's easy to make changes that will help make your business more accessible to all customers.

But it's relatively easy to make changes that will help make your business more accessible to all customers.

  • Improve online accessibility. If you have a website, take a look at the Accessibility Audit tool and fix any areas in need of attention.
  • Make sure your premises are accessible. Most people with disabilities can still access most places, but there are some simple things you can do to improve their experience.
  • Use tactile signage where appropriate (e.g., tactile numbers on doors).
  • Ensure there is sufficient lighting throughout your building so people don't trip over things or hurt themselves if they're unable to see clearly without a torch or other assistance from another person who may not be available. 

Businesses need to go further than making their premises accessible; they also need to cater for customers' specific needs.

Theoretically, it's all well and good for businesses to make their premises accessible. But this is only part of the story. Customers' individual needs are broad and varied. Some common examples include:

  • Accessibility (including physical, learning and hearing disabilities)
  • Language (including Australian Sign Language - Auslan)
  • Culture (e.g., religious beliefs)
  • Age group/generation 
  • Gender identity/sexual orientation

Employing people with disabilities.

Inclusion is about creating a space for all. It’s about recognising that people with disabilities are part of our community, and as such deserve an equal opportunity to participate in it. This is particularly important for businesses, because when you create inclusive workplaces, we attract and retain talented workers who might otherwise struggle to find jobs due to their disability.

It’s also good for the economy – according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), more than 1 million Australians have a disability and they make up almost 15% of our population. The ABS found that people with a disability have lower rates of employment than those without one: just over half had worked at some point during the previous year compared with nearly 80% of those without disabilities.

Even more striking was the difference in average weekly earnings between employed people with and without disabilities: $1,269 per week compared with $1,966 per week respectively! Clearly, creating an environment where everyone can access opportunities will be beneficial for everyone involved – not just employers but also employees themselves who may otherwise never get their foot in any door simply due to their circumstances.

Additionally, when you employ a diverse group of staff from different backgrounds and experiences, it allows for greater creativity within your organisation which leads to increased revenue growth potential over time due to increased innovation levels at work.

In Summary

So, what’s my point? It’s simple, accessibility matters for everyone. It doesn’t just benefit people with disabilities; it benefits everyone who wants to make sure their business is accessible for all customers. By investing in your company's accessibility, you are not only helping people with disabilities but also showing that you care about your community and want to be inclusive of everyone who visits or works there.

Article by

Jordan Freeman

Jordan is one of the founders of Ariel with a background in IT, disability support, and human rights law.

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