Magazine article Public Finance

Knowledge Is Power

Magazine article Public Finance

Knowledge Is Power

Article excerpt

I know that many public bodies offer excellent, innovative services that are designed to meet the needs of disabled people. I regularly visit projects and receive updates as new schemes are launched and developed throughout the country.

Yet many people are missing out on these services. The Office for National Statistics' Omnibus 2005 showed that a third of disabled people have difficulty accessing goods and services. According to a new report by the Office for Disability Issues, this is often because of the way the information is provided.

More than 10 million people in Britain have rights under the Disability Discrimination Act. As the population continues to age, this group is likely to get larger. That is a lot of public service customers with a wide range of needs, but still only part of the picture. Consider, for example, the difficulties faced by those who do not speak English.

Your organisation might be offering the highest quality services, but if people don't know about them, or how to access them, then despite your best efforts you are failing to deliver. That's why the ODI has been working with public bodies to understand the problems facing disabled people and develop ways to make things better.

Based on this work, we've published a new guide to producing better information for disabled people. It outlines five simple principles to help ensure that you are providing the high-quality information essential for delivering inclusive, accessible services. These include: effective planning; involving disabled people from the start; understanding the needs of different customers; providing better signposts; and considering how different sources of information are linked together.

The guide offers clear é explanations, practical advice on implementing the principles and examples of organisations that have successfully put these into practice.

This is a set of principles that will help public bodies to deliver better information, and therefore improved services, to all their customers - not just disabled people.

For example, organisations are often good at developing and establishing services, yet fail to think about how people would find out about and access them. Service providers need to ensure disabled people are involved right from the start to 'drive the solution'. …

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