Recognising Accessibility in your Workplace

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In these times of unprecedented economic challenge, it is essential to ensure that your business is best placed to maximise its business efforts and to set itself as a class apart. It’s all easier said than done. But a new award, which recognises the importance of accessibility in the workplace, may just give your business that commercial edge and additional business opportunities.

The ABLE Business Excellence Award is a joint venture between Rehab, Ireland’s leading provider of quality services to people with disabilities, and Excellence Ireland Quality Association (EIQA), the national quality organisation.

The Award is the Q mark for accessibility in business. It is an acknowledgement of a firm’s commitment and its achievements as a provider of services and products to customers with disabilities, and as an employer of people who have, or at some stage in the future may acquire, a disability.

According to Michael Horgan, Director of Enterprises, Rehab, the ABLE Business Excellence Award should be a key element of any firm’s business strategy in assessing where it is at now and where it needs to be in the future with regard to providing services to customers and staff with disabilities.

‘Ten per cent of our population has a disability and it makes good business sense for companies to make sure that this key section of our population is being provided for appropriately. But, making your business more accessible benefits not only this group, but all customers and staff alike.’

Irene Collins, Managing Director, EIQA, agrees. ‘The ABLE Business Excellence Award demonstrates that a company supports the highest standards available when it comes to equality and accessibility in business and that it is committed to leading the way in customer service.’

Applicants to the ABLE Business Excellence Award are assessed in three stand-alone modules—the ABLE employee, the ABLE customer and the Built Environment. This modular structure enables businesses to start the assessment process in the area that of their choice, or alternatively they may complete all three modules at once.

The ABLE Employee enables businesses to show that they are committed to promoting a sense of well-being among staff and have made provisions, should any member of staff acquire a disability now or in the future. Leadership, internal communications, recruitment, induction and employee well-being are just some of the areas covered by this module.

With the ABLE Customer module, businesses can demonstrate that they not only provide a quality customer experience, but are also developing a long-term accessible service. The module is broken down into individual criteria that include customer communications, customer service, marketing and promotion, product and service design, and customer complaints procedures.

Finally, the Built Environment module enables businesses to demonstrate that they have made a provision for universal access and circulation through their premises, so that all users signage, external steps and ramps, emergency equipment and training.

Registering for an ABLE Business Excellence Award is easy. Simply register online to receive an application pack. The pack contains a self-assessment form which should be completed and returned, following on from which a member of the team will visit the business premises to conduct an on.site assessment and later results and feedback will be provided. Successful companies are presented with an ABLE Business Excellence Award which is valid for a period of two years, following which re-assessment takes place.

The whole process takes approximately 12 weeks from application to assessment feedback. Any business that would like to take a longer period of time to prepare for assessment will be facilitated.

You can find out more about the ABLE Business Excellence Award, and how it can be of commercial benefit to your business, by visiting www.able.ie, emailing ableawards@rehab.ie or telephoning (01) 205 7234.

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