Session 2 Meeting Summary, November 27, 2015

NOVEMBER 27, 2015

On November 27th, a diverse range of individuals and organizations from the business community gathered for the first time to discuss voluntary accessibility certification for business.  Participants spanned across industries including transportation, tourism, technology, and hospitality.  With over 25 participants in attendance, the dialogue was rich with a variety of perspectives.

The participants explored many themes regarding the current challenges businesses face in becoming more accessible, including the complexities of designing a unified model for a wide range of business types.  Developing such a model will require cross-stakeholder collaboration to create a framework that effectively promotes accessibility.  

Throughout the day’s discussion, two key questions for future sessions emerged: How do we assess and quantify accessibility so that organizations can start taking gradual steps towards being “Excellence Champions”? And, how can businesses seamlessly incorporate accessibility into their service delivery model?

Noted challenges from today’s session included finding the balance between using a principles (or cultural) approach vs. a playbook (or actionable) approach; defining tangible measurement of attitudes and accessibility excellence; and accounting for the huge variety of businesses types. One key reflection is that businesses need to reframe accessibility problems as “being about the customer experience, not the customer service”.

Participants highlighted several considerations that should be involved in developing a certification model.  One overarching theme was the need for the model to be a “living entity” that is fluid and constantly evolving to ensure continued viability.  By pairing the model with feedback mechanisms, customer insights can be integrated easily.  As well, participants said that having “Excellence Champions” across different sectors who collaborate and share best practices would be advantageous both before and after launching the model.  Creating an “Excellence Champion” playbook with clearly defined incremental steps would help alleviate the pressure to make drastic organizational changes without knowing where to start. 

Further, participants stressed that communication with the disability community and its support mechanisms would allow for a multi-faceted perspective on how to become more accessible.  Finally, a key theme emerged that businesses should strive to reflect the broad continuum of individuals with disabilities. The idea here is that public trust will build when customers can see that businesses demonstrate knowledge of “lived experience” and advocate what they preach. 

This session continued the one held on November 25 with members of the disability community. A more detailed summary will follow and the dialogue continues through more face to face sessions and through certifiedforaccess (dot) ca.  Please share your thoughts, stories, and data to support the journey.  The next roundtable takes place on Thursday Dec 10.