My oldest brother, Jim Wick, was quadriplegic. I still remember the day I found out. I was a sophomore in college. On my way to church Sunday, Mother’s Day, May 1973, my brother, Gary, met me and solemnly told me about Jim’s accident in Columbus, Ohio. My brother Jim was a drag racer. The two cars he and his partner raced were Matchmaker, and Widowmaker. That morning at the Spring Nationals, competing in Matchmaker, a 1968 Plymouth Super Sport Barracuda he’d been badly hurt.
During time trails his car’s oil gasket broke shooting oil underneath his car as it sped done the track at 130 mph. Suddenly the car flipped over 7 times. Jim was trapped in the car for a long time. This was before roll bars and many of the safety devices you see today required in vehicles. Compounding this, the ambulance had rushed a child to the hospital just before the accident. The delay impacted my brother!
Jim entered the hospital with life-threatening injuries, the most severe an injury to his spinal cord.
That accident left him quadriplegic. Watching him manage his life from a wheelchair without the use of his 4 limbs was not just difficult, it was inspiring. Shortly after I graduated from college, I choose to move to Fond du Lac, Wisconsin to live closer to him so I could help him with his family and his passion for racing, which he never lost.
Despite his condition, he never lost his sense of humor. His laugh was contagious, never more so than when he would make fun of himself. One of his favorite jokes/sayings was, “Hire the handicap they’re fun to watch!”
My great admiration for him leads me to have a special connection to people with disabilities. Karoline Clarke, who has done several guest blogs here, provides a special look at how your business can and should focus on the disabled both as employees and customers.
Put Accessibility at The Forefront of Your Business
When it comes to consumerism, one section of society is regularly neglected. People living with disabilities are estimated to make up 15% of the world’s population, and have often been left behind when new businesses provide services. Accessibility to your business should be a primary consideration during creation and growth, for both ethical reasons and for the healthy growth of your business.
An accessibility-first design standpoint
For medium sized businesses, your website is an excellent opportunity to create an accessibility-first environment for customers. According to figures reported in Adweek, 81% of shoppers will search online before spending money. Having a website that is open and accessible to the portion of those shoppers who have a disability will place your business at the fore and help to enhance your reputation. How can this be achieved? Website design with accessibility in mind is fairly simple. Use simple colors and designs, as this will aid people with visual disabilities. Make sure that you provide proper subtitling for video content, and that the workings behind the page – code, and so on – are equally clear to read.
Meeting compliance standards
As a business grows, more of the rights and regulations that protected groups become important for medium sized business. As NOLO outline in their library, any business with over 15 employees must follow the ADA in conducting business and in their workplace practices. Rather than seeing this as a task for the business to complete, approach as an opportunity. Putting in protections and features for clients and your workforce is an invaluable opportunity to instill fairness in the workplace.
Promoting disability equality
While disability equality is a legally protected aspect of business compliance, all businesses can take that extra step by becoming advocates. According to Biz Journals, companies that actively campaign for disability rights and destigmatization can stand to enjoy considerable growth in the modern market. For medium sized businesses with marketing funds to deploy, it can be beneficial to look for local and international causes to link into your business. As always, brand voice is important, so retain passion in your delivery of any advocacy.
Accessibility is a requirement of many of today’s consumers. Both shoppers and workers need to have their conditions assessed and considered fairly. For medium business, putting yourself at the forefront of fairness towards disability will help you to grow in an ethical manner.
Growth demands Strategic Discipline.
To build an enduring great organization, requires disciplined people, disciplined thought, disciplined action, to produce superior results, and make a distinctive impact in the world.
Discipline sustains momentum, over a long period of time, laying the foundations for lasting endurance.
Meeting Rhythms achieve a disciplined focus on performance metrics to drive growth.
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Next Blog – Core Capabilities – Playing to Win
When you’re Playing to Win, your core capabilities, as well as your specific configuration of those capabilities need to be matched with management systems that support your specific playing to win choices. We look at core capabilities next blog.