A new disability symbol has been launched across the UK in response to face coverings “becoming the norm”, it has been revealed.
According to Headway, the brain injury charity, the Communication Access Symbol will increase the visibility of millions of people with disabilities who are required to wear a face mask in public spaces.
The new symbol, which has been created for businesses, organisations and consumers by the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT), comes after research revealed that the Covid-19 pandemic has made communication between people “increasingly challenging” – particularly for those with brain injuries.
Before businesses can display the symbol in shop windows, they must first undertake free online training on accessible face-to-face, telephone and online customer service, demonstrating they have the knowledge necessary to effectively communicate with people with disabilities.
Commenting on the launch of the symbol, Nick Hewer, RCSLT President, said: “People who have communication difficulties often feel marginalised by society because their needs can be hidden in a way that other disabilities are not.
“If they receive poor customer service as a result of businesses not understanding how to support their needs – whether it’s a bank, building society, gym, hotel, pub, restaurant, or shop, they are likely to feel twice as frustrated as the average person and with good reason.”
Headway Deputy Chief Executive, Luke Griggs, added: “Communication difficulties are very common after brain injury, with many different parts of the brain involved in this complex skill. Headway understands the enormous difficulties that communication difficulties can cause for people with brain injury in everyday life, and are delighted to be involved with this project.”
According to the latest statistics, there were 348,000 admissions to UK hospitals with an acquired brain injury in 2016-17 – the latest data available.
Businesses can find more about the Communications Access scheme and symbol here.