Putting disability on the Board’s Agenda

Last month Richard Branson pledged that Virgin Media and nine others, including Unilever, Microsoft and Barclays, had signed up to put disability on the top of the board’s agenda.

Apple has this week shown that Branson is not the only one complaining that emojis do not accurately represent those with disabilities.

Back in March 2018, Apple submitted proposed sketches of 13 new emoji’s including those with wheelchair users, assistance dogs, deaf people, hearing aid, prosthetic limbs and the blind and visually impaired.  They also submitted additional evidence in the form of google search reports to support the importance of these additions.

Richard Branson ensures that disability is included on the agenda and in strategic discussions at the board level after listening to Caroline Casey, a Disability Campaigner, at last month’s World Economic Forum (WEF) in Switzerland.

‘Valuable 500’ is a campaign encouraging 500 global businesses to get on board.

Caroline states, “You can’t ignore a mass swathe of our global market, particularly in a time of hyper-competition.”

Absolutely right! There is a massive market opportunity for those global brands who choose to deliver accessible services.
They are standing out from the crowd, giving deaf and disabled customers a level of service they won’t get elsewhere.   

With that brings loyalty and long-term customer value, as once a deaf customer has received such a high-quality service, the deciding factor is no longer price – it is about remaining with the business that provides the service in a personalised way to suit the customer. The stuff that dreams are made of!

Making this happen may feel like an uphill struggle, but true accessibility works when it comes from the top of the organisation.  Living and breathing the vision and values of the business and being delivered at each and every daily activity.

So, starting with the Why – the vision – why do you do what you do?

Disney’s Disneyland parks have a compelling why – “to create the happiest place on earth.”

Then the How – the values that underpin everything that happens. In Disney’s case, this is:

  • Safety
  • Courtesy
  • Show
  • Efficiency

This Disney structure makes it clear that cast members need to embed the vision and values.  And here you can see that magic playing out!


Disney sprinkles their magic and creates the happiest place on earth for the many deaf children and families who visit time and time again. This creates a high standard of delivery across all customer groups; giving real clarity that everyone should have this shared experience

So, take a look at your vision and values and really start to gauge whether accessibility is truly at the heart of your business.