SCALE’s Aphasia Friendly Business Campaign
In January 2011, SCALE launched a campaign to educate local businesses about aphasia and advocate for the rights of people with aphasia to receive access to their products and services. Business owners were invited to participate in a FREE opportunity to increase their business by better serving people with aphasia. Businesses were offered the opportunity to receive training and resources designed to accommodate the communication needs of people with aphasia.
During our first contact with prospective businesses, owners were provided with a definition of aphasia and statistics regarding the prevalence of aphasia nationally and locally. A “Did You Know” Fact Sheet and a brief description of common barriers that people with aphasia face as consumers were presented. Businesses were asked to select one representative from their business to attend a one-hour training about aphasia presented at SCALE by individuals with aphasia. Businesses also agreed to allow SCALE members to visit their business and survey the accessibility of the reading materials (such as, signs, instructions, menus, etc.), the environment (for example, the accessibility of restrooms) as well as the employee knowledge of aphasia and ways to facilitate communication.
Representatives from each business were invited to SCALE to learn more about aphasia and participated in training in ways to best support communication with someone with aphasia. Members assessed the representative’s knowledge about aphasia by administering the National Aphasia Association Aphasia Quiz. Members then presented a slide show that contained information about aphasia, tips for communicating with individuals with aphasia and common misconceptions about people with aphasia. They shared their personal struggles and successes and allowed time to answer questions.
SCALE members also provided recommendations of resources that would make the products and services at each participating business more accessible. For example, iconic menus were recommended to restaurant representatives. For businesses like banks and pharmacies, symbols were suggested to accompany written text on signs to facilitate comprehension for individuals with reading impairments. SCALE members volunteered to assist in creating the recommended materials for participating businesses.
SCALE members photographed the businesses, and located iconic representations of their products and services. For example, iconic menus were created, as well as visual supports for banking and discussions with the pharmacist regarding medications. Family members and volunteers assisted with the construction of the support materials.
Finally, members invited the business representatives to an award luncheon co-sponsored by the National Aphasia Association honoring the participating businesses. Members presented the materials that were created specifically for each business and presented speeches about aphasia and the need for accessible services and products. They presented each business an award honoring them as an “Aphasia-Friendly Business”. Owners were asked to display the award in their business.
SCALE members are now creating a training DVD for each business to demonstrate correct use of the supportive materials and to assist businesses in training all of their employees how to provide “aphasia-friendly” services.
Feedback from the participating businesses has been very positive and members have developed relationships with many of the representatives. In addition, our organization has developed a relationship with the businesses and we intend to invite them to future SCALE events and to engage them in future outreach opportunities.
The National Aphasia Association hopes to expand the Aphasia Friendly Business Campaign nationally. SCALE’s model will be used to plan a national effort to improve access to services for people with aphasia throughout the United States.
Aphasia Friendly Business Campaign
-Working with businesses to expand services to people with disabilities-
Educate businesses about aphasia and increase accessibility to their services for people with aphasia.
Visit local businesses and share information about aphasia with business owners and staff
Accessibility of restrooms
Accessibility of reading material (such as signs, menus, or instructions)
Employee knowledge of aphasia and ways to facilitate communication
….business representatives to your center, clinic, office to learn more about aphasia and participate in training to support communication
Provide examples of resources that will make the products/services more accessible to people with aphasia, for example, iconic menus, or symbols to accompany written signs.
Involve people with aphasia, families, volunteers in creating materials specifically designed for each business to make their specific products and services accessible.
Award businesses that implement changes by posting their efforts on your website, Facebook page, center newsletter
Award outstanding businesses with an “Aphasia Friendly Business” Decal