Disability Awareness - Disabled People, Disabilities, Discrimination And Customer Services
Article Author: Gous Ahmed
Reactions Towards Disabled People
When we notice someone in a wheelchair, with a stick or someone visibly disabled, what reactions do we have towards them, and how do we treat them? If we sit and think about disabled people, they are no different to us. The only difference being they have a disability with which they were born with, or became disabled later on in life.
How do you feel towards disabled people? Continue reading and you will get a good understanding of disabilities, legislation, discrimination etc. By the end of it, hopefully you will think differently about disabled people.
The Definition of Disability
For the purposes of the Disability Discrimination Act:
· substantial means neither minor nor trivial
· long term means that the effect of the impairment has lasted or is likely to last for at least 12 months (there are special rules covering recurring or fluctuating conditions)
· normal day-to-day activities include everyday things like eating, washing, walking and going shopping
· a normal day-to-day activity must affect one of the 'capacities' listed in the Act which include mobility, manual dexterity, speech, hearing, seeing and memory
Some conditions, such as a tendency to set fires and hay fever, are specifically excluded.
People who have had a disability in the past that meets this definition are also covered by the scope of the Act. There are additional provisions relating to people with progressive conditions.
The DDA 2005 amended the definition of disability. It ensured that people with HIV, cancer and multiple sclerosis are deemed to be covered by the DDA effectively from the point of diagnosis, rather than from the point when the condition has some adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.
Types of Disabilities
Hearing impairment Speech impairment Sight impairment
Disfigurement Wheelchair user Learning difficulties
Dyslexia Down’s syndrome Attention deficit disorder
Cerebral palsy Cystic fibrosis Spina bifida
Alzheimer’s Spinal cord injury AIDS
Arthritis Asthma Diabetes
Epilepsy Multiple sclerosis Parkinson’s
People with disabilities from significant proportion of the UK population and they should not be excluded from accessing the same facilities and services as everyone else.
You have legal responsibilities as a service provider under the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA).
There is a strong business case for attracting disabled customers.
The reputation of your organisation, and its’ ability to attract repeat business and word of mouth recommendations, is based on the service standards that you offer to all of your customers.
Meeting legal requirements
The DDA 1995 is a law aimed at reducing discrimination that many disabled people face.
The DDA gives disabled people rights in a number of areas, including access to goods and services.
All organisations that supply goods, facilities and services to the public are covered by the DDA, and have a duty not to discriminate against disabled people.
What is discrimination
Under the ACT, discrimination occurs when:
- A disabled person is treated less favourably than someone else
- The treatment is for a reason relating to a person’s disability
- This treatment cannot be justified
When does discrimination take place?
- If a disabled person meets with any of the following kinds of treatment, they are facing discrimination:
- Services refused or a customer is ignored because of a reason connected with a disability, while others are treated better.
- A worse service is provided or the disabled person is served in an inferior way.
- The terms of service are not as good as other people obtain, including charging more or imposing extra restrictions.
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Actions that could assist a transaction with customers with a disability
- Fitting induction loops for hearing impaired customers
- Providing more open room and ramps to access your services for wheelchair users
- Providing information leaflets with larger and simple fonts for sight impaired people and also provide access to documents written in Braille
- Provide access to touch screen computers
Customers with visible disabilities
- Wheelchair user
- Cane user (with red stripes mean they’re deaf as well)
- People using assistance dogs
- Walking stick
- Down’s syndrome
Customers with invisible disabilities
- People suffering from depression
- People with cancer
Communicating with disabled people
- Speak clearly and keep normal facial impression, and choose appropriate words
- Make eye contact
- Leave some room between you and a wheelchair user when speaking to them so they do not have to bend their neck backwards to speak to you
- Use positive body language
- Listen carefully
- Ask the disabled person if they require any assistance
- Use the word “assist” (empowering) and not “help”
- Speak to the disabled person, unless they have learning difficulties, and not the person with them
- Obtain feedback from customers
- Provide a high standard of service
Choosing your words
Using appropriate language when speaking to or about customers with disabilities:
- Is courteous and sensitive to the needs of the individual
- Shows respect for customers with disability
- Is likely to create a favourable impression of you and your organisation
The following terms would be appropriate to use:
- Person with a disability
- Customer who is deaf/ hard of hearing
- Visitor who is a wheelchair user
- Customer with learning difficulties
- Guest suffering cerebral palsy
- Visitor with a spinal injury
- Customer with a visual impairment
Disability Awareness is very important as we will come in contact with disabled people daily. Hopefully the information above will useful for anyone reading this for daily interaction with different people with different abilities and disabilities.
In the end I hope your views have changed about how you approached disability, the different kinds of disabilities and barriers faced by disabled people, and also become more aware of your interactions with disabled people, and apply the information above for a positive outlook about disability.
Talk - Short film
Below is a clip from a short film called 'Talk', which was made by Disability Rights commission (UK).
Please view the video clip and let me know what you think in the comment section, below.
How do you deal with disabilities?
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