5 Minutes with Jodie

Jodie dressed in a white t-shirt with the Be #PeopleSmart logo on it, holding her arms out to the slide in welcome

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Unlike our other personas, I am a real person, although I think I prefer my digital look.

I am British, born and bred in London and still living in a London suburb with my partner Neil and our house rabbit (or the real boss) Dobby.

I am the Founder of Be #PeopleSmart and loving being part of the journey to improved disability inclusion and accessibility for our clients.

I love to travel, which has of course taken a knock due to the pandemic, however it’s given me chance to look at areas of the UK I still need to visit.

Can you please tell us a bit about how disability inclusion and accessibility impact you?

I wasn’t sure about including myself in the persona images at first, however I’m representing someone who isn’t currently disabled.

I have a personal and professional passion for disability inclusion and have been noted for my tenacity (a nice way of saying I’m very vocal) in addressing the fact that, in many organisations, diversity and inclusion (D&I) is only diverse-ish, as so often there is little or no strategy or tangible action with regards disability inclusion.

With regards personal impact, accessibility also enables me. For example, poor contrast makes it difficult for me to read information, controlling my laptop with my voice give me flexibility to move around more and non-intuitive websites make it difficult for me to find the information I need.

If you could deliver a 1 hour workshop, dedicated to disability inclusion, to the entire population what would you focus on?

Well, I do deliver workshops quite regularly and it’s always interesting when you start with a blank page to decide what content adds most value. However, I’d start with an overview of disabilities, including statistics and legislation, then move into inclusive behaviours and practices and finally I’d have an immersive exercise to give an idea of how it can feel to be excluded.

I would include how legislation is of course non-negotiable, however we shouldn’t limit ourselves to legislative obligations. People aren’t clauses in a document and therefore it should be about simply doing the right thing to give everyone an equitable experience, where I’d share the difference between equality and equity.

I’d be keen to also include a discussion on labels. Why do we need to put labels on people, simply to enable them to go about their day to day lives? Inclusion should simply be giving people access to the tools and services they need, to either be productive employees or to be able to do business with us. Many organisations have a room that can be used for prayers, a space for nursing mothers and usually ramps or a lift wherever there are stairs. However, beyond that, when it comes to accessibility people often want to know why they’re accommodating someone before action is taken. Does it really matter? People aren’t labels, they are human beings with skills, abilities, likes, dislikes and needs; it’s only when we aren’t accessible that barriers are created.

I am a real believer in sharing quick wins too, as they are things we can all do from today to make a difference and it helps people identify how simple inclusion can be, even if that means doing things a little differently to how we have in the past.

Are there places, systems, or services you regularly find difficult to access?

As I mentioned, I don’t currently have a disability, however I still find some things difficult to access. For example, high shelves in a supermarket (I’m 5’ 3” or 160cm), non-intuitive websites, any documents, labels or websites with poor contrast and videos or podcasts with background music and audible messaging playing at one time – my attention doesn’t know where to aim.

Do you have the same accessibility challenges at home?

Just the high shelves again for me, although I have solutions built in for that; I have a set of steps that store away in a low cupboard which can be pulled out to access the higher shelves.

If you could change just 2 things to improve accessibility, what would you start with?

Just 2? Wow, this is tough.

I would have to choose all organisations to have an inclusive communications policy, which not only states all documents and channels must be fully accessible, but also shows those administering the information what that means and how to achieve it.

This really is tough, as I have about 12 different things going around my head right now.

Ok, my second choice will be fully accessible public transport everywhere.

As we don’t have a magic genie to grant my wishes, I guess I’d better get back to work.

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