Accessibility: A problem worth solving

Accessibility: A problem worth solving

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Contributors:

Lesley Dunn, Inclusion Nova Scotia

Accessibility is a necessary condition of inclusion. People of all races, genders, and sexual orientations, have disabilities. Accessibility Awareness Week takes place every year starting on the last Sunday in May. It is an opportunity for you, your business, or your organization to raise awareness of the positive economic and social benefits when persons with disabilities can access resources, services, and employment.

Accessibility means more than access for people who use wheelchairs. There are many disability types including mobility, cognition, hearing, vision, independent living, and much more. Sadly, even in the year 2022, people with disabilities often take a back seat when diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives are put into place.

Inclusion, Disability, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility (I.D.D.E.A.) all play an important role in a Coordinated Accessibility Strategy. Almost 50% of Canadian adults have experienced a temporary or permanent disability, which is why we need your help to improve and identify barriers for your employees, customers, and community members. We need visionaries and activators who understand that “as long as there are barriers for some, there is still work to be done.”

In order to achieve full access for Nova Scotians experiencing disability by 2030, it is our shared responsibility to develop, implement, and enforce accessibility standards with respect to goods, services, facilities, accommodation, employment, buildings, structures, and premises. We must understand that the experience of disability can vary widely depending on the person’s circumstances and lived experience. Disability should not limit opportunity. When you invest in accessibility, you are investing in the common good.

Accessibility is the reason to do things differently in the following areas:

Environment

Over one in three people show an unconscious bias against those with a disability — higher than levels of bias on the basis of gender identity or race. To combat unconscious bias, businesses and organizations can foster accessible environments. Environments can be physical, social, and attitudinal; they can also be related to transportation, information and communication, systems, policies, standards, and so much more.  

Workforce

There are 645,000 Canadians experiencing disability who have the potential to work in an accessible labour market that are currently not working. Businesses with inclusive hiring have 72% more employee productivity, a 45% increase in workplace safety, 28% higher revenue, and 30% higher profit margins.

It does not cost more to hire a person with a disability. 60% of the requested accommodations cost nothing. 93% of accommodations are a one-time cost of less than $500.00. Common accommodations include flex hours, ergonomic workstations, assistive technologies, or adaptive devices.

Marketplace

Close to one in five Canadians live with a disability, representing one of the most significant, under-served market segments. The purchasing power of the Canadian disability community is estimated to be $55.4 billion annually. 71% of customers with accessibility needs will click away from websites they find difficult to use. That 71% has an estimated spending power of 10% of the total online spend.

During Accessibility Awareness Week 2022, we invite you to share photos and videos of how you are promoting Inclusion, Disability, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility to actively remove barriers for employees, customers, community members, and visitors to Nova Scotia. We encourage you to:

• Celebrate Access Awareness Week at your business or organization through social media and by passing a resolution to improve accessibility.

• Commit to better understanding barriers to accessibility by hosting or attending a webinar, speaker series, or discussion.

• Commit to removing barriers to accessible communication, goods and services, education, transportation, and/or employment.

• Assess an existing policy, service, or program to ensure accessibility and the rights of people with disabilities are central to delivery.

When persons with disabilities have access to meaningful employment, resources, and services, Nova Scotia’s economy grows. Businesses have the chance to welcome more customers, improve service satisfaction, and reflect diversity in the workplace.

inclusionns.ca

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