Expansion of Project Designed to Make Businesses Inclusive
The project has been bought to life by local Blue Mountains resident, Dr Annie Brennan from DARE Disability Support. DARE is an NDIS service provider who has been caring for people with a disability in the Blue Mountains and surrounds since 1961.
“One in 20 people have an invisible disability like intellectual disability or autism. We want to make it easier for customers with invisible disabilities to find and use local shops and services” says Dr Brennan. A successful trial launch in Springwood saw 38 businesses sign up, and over 110 employees complete the training in the first few months. It’s been so successful that it is now being rolled out throughout the rest of the Blue Mountains and Penrith, with several more businesses now joining the program.
The training is free and can be completed in about 15 minutes online. It focuses on how communication techniques can be used to ensure customers with ‘invisible’ disabilities like intellectual disability and autism feel welcome and have a positive customer service experience. The training can also be put into practice for other customers, like elderly people, those from non-English speaking backgrounds, and more. The businesses that complete the training are able to access other benefits of the program, including being listed on the ‘Are You Inclusive?’ website so that people with disability can find a service or business that they know is inclusive.
“The feedback we’ve got from both businesses & customers has been amazing. Not only does it make our community more inclusive, but also helps local businesses attract new customers. It’s a real win-win, and we’re excited to now roll it out further.” Dr Brennan.
Bruce from Beaut-T-Ful Bags Springwood and Katoomba signed up as part of the Springwood trial. Beaut-T-Ful Bags is already very inclusive, but Bruce still found the program very worthwhile. “All the team here have commented that they got something out of the training. Whilst we don’t treat any customers differently to one another, it provoked some thought as to the way we interact with customers. Everyone wants to be treated with respect and dignity, and this showed us different ways to enable that to happen for everyone involved.”
Stormer Music in Blaxland, Penrith and Parramatta have recently joined since the project expansion. Owner Joel said “Music is for everyone, that’s why we were inspired to be part of this great initiative. We're aiming to have all our staff complete the training and look forward to seeing the positive changes this brings to our business”
Dr Brennan is inviting any local business or service to sign-up, and for community members to use the resources to find inclusive places to shop. “We’d love to hear of any positive, inclusive experiences anyone has had so we can share the good news and spread the word about the benefit of inclusion.” said Dr Brennan.
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