How to meet the support needs of disabled consumers

85% of disabled consumers haven’t requested additional support from firms

Is your business looking to better address the support needs of disabled consumers and colleagues but doesn’t know where to turn?

It is a common problem within organisations, especially as disabilities come in many forms and can often be hidden.

In recognition of the challenges faced by disabled consumers and those with additional support needs, leading disability and accessibility specialists Dan Holloway and Chris Fitch have created The Support List (www.WhatWeNeed.Support).

The ‘List’ describes the changes, reasonable adjustments and support needs that 1,400 disabled and vulnerable consumers with lived experience want firms, businesses, and institutions to meet.

The project is sponsored by Experian, Lloyds Banking Group, NewDay, HSBC, Co-Operative Bank, Tesco Bank and other organisations who hope members of the disabled community will share their experiences to allow the List to expand its guidance to incorporate a wider range of support needs over time.  

What is the Support List? 

The List is a public hub promoting dialogue between disabled people and those with additional support needs and businesses looking to support the needs of their customers in delivering products and services.  

It currently covers sight, hearing, mental health and dementia and outlines consumer preferences in the following categories: 

•             Telephone communications 

             Written communications and in-person meetings 

             Communication preferences 

             Other support needs  

Over time the List will cover more support needs, disabilities, vulnerabilities, and circumstances, informed by the lived experiences of contributors. Organisations will test the resulting insights to see how readily they can be implemented – to eventually create standardised approaches and responses. 

Dan Holloway, Co-convenor of the Futures Thinking Network at The Oxford Research Centre for the Humanities, said: “As disabled people, we are used to having to repeat often highly personal information to every organisation disabled people deal with, just to be able to access services others take for granted. We hope this project will help break the cycle of exhaustion and trauma that has such a disastrous impact on our lives.” 

Paul Speirs, Managing Director, Digital Consumer Information, Experian UK&I, said: “I am proud that Experian has played a role in supporting the creation of the Support List resource over the past year. We hope the website will act as a catalyst for knocking down barriers disabled and vulnerable people face every day.” 

Kathryn Townsend, Government Disability & Access Ambassador (Banking Sector), added: “Companies that provide services on an on-going basis, such as finance, energy and telecommunications, have a unique opportunity to deliver personal, accessible experiences for their customers – and yet many disabled people still face barriers.  

“The financial services industry has been leading the way on accessibility, but there is more that can be done across all sectors. The Support List provides a welcome resource that puts disabled people’s voices at the heart of the solution and will hopefully help address some of the challenges companies cite.” 

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