Toucan Diversity: What, Why and How?

Thomas Blown BA
Volunteer Content Writer

In last year’s manifesto [2015] the Conservative Party set out the goal to halve the disability employment gap. But a recent study by the Learning and Work Institute shows that this would actually take more than 200 years to fulfil.”

If you do a cost benefit analysis of employing people with disabilities in purely quantitative terms (the recordable data) it would be much more economically sound to employ people without disabilities. Accommodating for someone with special requirements is sometimes viewed as too much hassle. This may help to explain the above quote.

However, in more qualitative terms there are outstanding benefits to employing people with disabilities; diversity, team spirit etc. This is shown by the results of the Louis Harry Survey in 2016, where 88% of people working with a colleague with a disability said that the experience was enriching.(https://www.ukessays.com/essays/general-studies/the-risks-of-employing-ex-convicts-general-studies-essay.php). Unfortunately, these benefits are sometimes pushed to one side in this austerity-laden capitalist world of ours. As a result, organisations such as Toucan Diversity are in place to take positive steps in removing the barriers that people face because of their disability. It is very important we increase education about and awareness of the issues which affect people with disabilities and other minority groups to ensure that equal opportunity is universally accessible.

Parliament has gone some way to making these strides. In 2010, the UK government passed the Equality Act to prevent businesses from pursuing an economic agenda when it comes to the hiring process. This furthered the guarantee of equal access to employment for all by law. In the case of disability, employers and service providers were now “under a duty to make reasonable adjustments to their workplaces to overcome barriers experienced by disabled people”.( https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/law-and-courts/discrimination/what-are-the-different-types-of-discrimination/duty-to-make-reasonable-adjustments-for-disabled-people/)  In reality, the Equality Act 2010 did nothing to significantly change the law – it merely redefined it. However, the continual drafting of Bills and ultimately positive decisions of Westminster on the rights and laws surrounding people with disabilities suggests that there has been a gradual shift in attitudes towards people with disabilities. Gone are the days of Eugenics.  No longer can firms legally operate discriminately towards people with disabilities who are already facing endless obstacles in their pursuit of everyday life. Firms are given grants and people with disabilities have access to specialist support from organisations such as Work Choice, a voluntary programme run by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). Nowadays, the effect of all this has arguably been a success.

However, the mission is far from total success. There is still much to be done. In 2016, 18 per cent of small to medium-sized business owners were not sure what the benefit of making their business more inclusive to people with disabilities would be, whilst a similar number (17 per cent) said that they would not know where to start or what adjustments would need to be made. For 23 per cent, the costs of making their company accessible were too high and about 10 per cent said it would be too much hassle. (http://smallbusiness.co.uk/business-benefits-employing-disabled-people-2533637/). 83 per cent of UK small and medium-sized enterprises said their products and services were “not designed to be accessible to all customers, including those with sensory or mobility disabilities”. A further 81 per cent of UK businesses do not have car parking spaces for people with disabilities, while 74 per cent do not have a ramp, and a further 74 per cent do not have toilets that are easily accessible. Nine out of ten UK small and medium-sized enterprises say their businesses do not currently have a lift if there is more than one floor. The study also finds that only one in ten UK businesses currently provides written communications in braille or audio, while only a third have signs that are easy to read.

Six years after the 2010 Equality Act, it seems the requirement for the provision of accessible formats has been largely ignored.

However, while the majority of UK companies are not currently providing equal opportunity, over three quarters said they would if they had the right guidance.

This is where Toucan Diversity comes in. We are a user-led award winning social enterprise based in Portsmouth and we believe there are honest opportunities out there for people with disabilities. Toucan Diversity is a not-for-profit organisation that provides equality training in order to promote social inclusion for the most disadvantaged groups of our society.

We firmly believe that individuals should be treated equally regardless of disability, gender, ethnic origin, religion and sexual orientation

We aim to further facilitate the transformation of society into one that is open and accessible for all.

We aim to rid of the ignorance surrounding disability.

To do this, we run disability equality and disability  awareness training events in local communities and businesses.  Please contact Toucan Diversity on info@toucan-diversity.org.uk or call us on

07581 410 483

 

Written by:   Thomas Blown

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