Michael Connolly has been appointed as one of eleven Sector Champions who will drive forward the UK Government’s ambition to tackle the issues disabled people face as consumers, the Minister for Disabled People, Work and Health announced this week.
Michael is Regional Training and Standards Manager for OCS ltd. He believes that the world should be accessible to everyone regardless of ability. As well as managing the trainers at six regional airports, he works with the airports themselves bringing in charities and local support groups improve airports for disabled people.
As part of his work to improve accessibility at airports, Michael holds open days for disability groups around the West Midlands where service users can visit the airport, take a tour and see the assistance that is available. Passenger figures have risen across the hidden disabilities group since he started these tours/open days.
He said: “In a people-driven business, we have to learn how to talk to people. We learn more from a, “Where are you off to, Nice?” Than we do from a scripted question. The more personalised we make the conversation the better the experience for our passengers”.
The Champions, who represent a range of different sectors and businesses, from leisure to retail, will use their influential status as leaders in their industries to promote the benefits of being inclusive to disabled people.
There are currently more than 11 million disabled people in the UK and the spending power of their households – ‘the purple pound’ – is almost £250billion. But many businesses are missing out on this potential customer base by having everyday products and services which aren’t available to disabled people – who, as a result, are regularly excluded from experiences and opportunities that many others take for granted.
The new sector champions will drive improvements to the accessibility and quality of services and facilities in their sector, helping to showcase best practice and show other businesses the merit of making disabled customers a priority.