Making workplaces – as well as products and services – accessible for people living with disability has become a key part of diversity and inclusion efforts in Australia across the Australian public and private sector over the past decade. This is important because one in five Australians (around 4.4 million people) have some form of disability.
An ideal first step is developing an Access and Inclusion Plan. This typically involves exploring ways to employ more people with disability, identifying tools, technologies and workplace adjustments to support people with disability, through to providing inclusive and accessible solutions for customers. This lens extends to people living with both visible and invisible disabilities.
These plans are relevant for any type of organisation – private or public, small to large. The Australian Human Rights Commission has more than 700 plans on its Register of Disability Discrimination Act Action Plans.
A good example is NAB’s Accessibility and Inclusion Plan that explains the Bank’s commitments to customers with disability, community with disability and colleagues with disability, and highlights the pivotal role of their employee network group, NABility, – a team of employees with disability, carers of family members with disability, and allies – in guiding NAB’s efforts for ten years.
What does an Access and Inclusion Plan include?
An Access and Inclusion Plan typically includes the following:
- A commitment statement from the most senior leader such as the CEO or Managing Director.
- A vision statement that outlines the intent of the plan.
- Commitments outlining specific actions. Most plans run over a two-to-three-year timeframe to allow sufficient time to implement changes. Organisations often outline these commitments by three sections – our people, our customers, and our community.
- For those who have previously published a plan, reporting back on the achievement of the previous commitments.
- Stories and case studies of how your organisation is already supporting people with disability.
- Contact information for anyone wanting to find out more, or who may have questions about your strategy.
It’s important that accessible design is applied to the plan document itself. This includes offering it in alternative formats such as PDF and plain text, so that people using screen reading software can access the content. Audio formats are increasingly offered too. Another tip is to ensure any images used are representative of people with disability or that artwork is created by artists living with disability.
Here’s some ideas for organisations who are considering developing a plan on how to get started.
- Bring people with lived experience together, including employees living with disability or those caring for people with disability in their lives. Also include organisational stakeholders whose work has direct impact such as those in technology, recruitment or property teams, where relevant.
- Run an assessment of what your organisation is already doing to support people with disability. This could include a wide range of actions such as community sponsorships, or flexible working options.
- Identify any gaps or opportunities for employees, customers and members of the community living with disability to access jobs, products and services. A great tool is the Australian Network on Disability’s ‘Quick 10 Access and Inclusion Index Quick Self-Assessment’ to see how you’re doing across areas such as premises, products and services, recruitment and selection, and career development.
- Draft the plan, together with two-to-three-year commitments and set up a dedicated page on your external web site to host it. A good research starting point is the Australian Human Rights Commission’s ‘Register of Disability Discrimination Act Action Plans’ and ‘Disability Action Plan Guide’.
- Set up a governance process to ensure the commitments in the plan remain on track.
- Launch the Plan to employees and other stakeholders, communicating key messages about why this is important for your organisation and how people can get involved.
If you’d like to chat with us about support to help develop or refine your organisation’s Access and Inclusion Plan as part of your broader diversity and inclusion efforts, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.