Travelling with a disability takes guts. It also takes determination. Throw in problem solving skills. Organisational skills. The ability to speak out and up for yourself. Add a fair pinch of faith too. It’s no wonder disabled people develop such strengths in these areas! You plan each trip with military precision. You become an expert on companies to avoid and those that you can trust. You learn to be more flexible about the time it might take. And you develop grit.
But what about when you have an invisible disability? Or when you’re supporting a loved one who does? You might look the same as everyone else on the outside. Your needs will be less obvious. And even less likely to be understood. Asking for help is problematic. Barriers are less likely to be physical. But they exist all the same.
Autism and Dementia are probably the most well-known invisible disabilities. And too often they come hand in hand with isolation. How do you access the same opportunities as everyone else if you experience the world in a different way? Sadly, the answer is that many people simply don’t. The stares, the difficulties, the barriers… They become too hard to negotiate. Thankfully, forward thinking organisations are beginning to take steps to tackle this.
In 2015, the aviation industry led the way with lanyards! The OCS Group introduced the lanyards for travellers with invisible disabilities. The sunflower design acts as a discreet sign, signalling to staff that awareness and assistance might be needed. This simple aid enables travellers to communicate their needs without drawing unwelcome attention. And shows disabled customers that inclusion is a priority.
Since the success of the initiative, others have followed aviation’s good example. Sainsbury’s has since become the first supermarket to trial the use of the lanyards in stores. And the success of the initial scheme has led to 40 further roll outs in their stores across the UK. The rise of autism hours in both stores and entertainment venues has increased.
Demand is there. Business is becoming more aware of the value of the purple pound. Can your organisation afford to shrug and leave disability inclusion at the bottom of the ‘to do’ list?
To tell us all about your inclusion initiatives drop me a line on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/cassandraleese/
To find out more and show disabled people you’re an inclusive employer of choice go to www.evenbreak.co.uk