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Report global best practices to benchmark the private sector, firstly Banking in South Africa to open job opportunities and remove barriers

Accessiblity best practices per sector can assist the private sector in South Africa to remove current barriers for all disabled customers.

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What problem does your idea solve?

Many corporate companies believe that creating accessible services is really difficult or expensive. They are also not sure where to begin or how to approach it. By creating global accessibility benchmark reports for different industry sectors, the conversation can shift towards best practices and successful approaches towards universal access and inclusion. As employers, these private sector companies can plan a significant role in expanding job opportunities for people with a disability.

Explain your idea

What are the key barriers experienced by various groups of people living with a disability and how can this be addressed? What makes this industry accessible? How is this achieved? Which companies are doing really well and leading the way in terms of accessibility? How can I apply this in my company? By creating frameworks from the bottom up through focusing on the lived experience of people living with a disability as they interact with commercial services, we can highlight current barriers and how to eliminate these. If we want society as a whole to be inclusive, we cannot just focus on social services, we need to address the private sector, since without them society will never be fully inclusive.

Who benefits?

Society as a whole benefits. Corporates who are doing well benefit - they get recognition for their leadership in terms of accessibility, other corporates benefit - they are able to fast-track their journey towards becoming accessibile, and people living with a disability benefit - universal access best practices are known and can be adopted more widely in each specific sector's context. It can help legislators in countries where disaiblity rights and access is not as well developed.

How is your idea unique?

Benchmarking is done for many industries so it is not a new idea, but applying it to the unique challenges of access experienced in different sectors by people living with a disability is an extension which could make a real difference toward a society which is globally more accessible. My idea is to develop the benchmark priorities through surveys and focus groups to understand the current barriers to access in a specific industry for example banking, healthcare or education. Then select the top 3 companies in the sector from at leat 20 countries and compare them on the accessibility of their services. The idea is to repeat this every two years and start creating roadmaps towards accessibility best practices which can be emulated by other companies.

Tell us more about you

My business is called Enable Network and has been in operation since 2013. The inspiration for my business came from the experience of attending a universal design conference in Norway in the middle of 2012. The dream of a fully inclusive society was given wings. The most notable contribution my company have made thus far was to do a user-centered study of barriers to banking for a number of disability groups within South Africa for the Banking Association of South Africa.

What are some of your unanswered questions about the idea?

I am wondering about how to protect the intellectual property rights embedded in the models and how to support the information with a consulting service to assist interested companies to implement the accessibility priorities that are highlighted in the reports. We're also wondering about the best way to market and distribute the final product.

Where will your idea be implemented?

  • Ghana
  • Kenya
  • Malawi
  • Nigeria
  • South Africa
  • Tanzania
  • Uganda
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe

Experience in Implementation Country(ies)

  • Yes, for more than one year.

Expertise in Sector

  • I've worked in a sector related to my idea for more than a year.

Organizational Status

  • We are a registered for-profit company (including social enterprises).

Idea Maturity

  • Prototyping: I have done some small tests with prospective users to continue developing my idea.

How has your idea changed based on feedback?

The best part of the improve phase was taking the idea out of our heads and putting some of it on paper, we started thinking about the possible format of the report, what elements it would contain, how it might be organised and tested this with different stakeholders, noting their responses and feedback. It was great fun and defintely helped to move the idea forward. It's summarised in the main attachment where we've also responded to the questions from the expert reviewers. The most significant change to our idea is that we realised the tremendous potential of the private sector as an employer of people with a disability in the formal sector. We knew that a commitment to accessibility made them also focus on being more disability friendly as an employer but did not connect the dots until then. So we're very excited to have increased our scope to not only focus externally on customers but also internally on staff in our benchmark reports.

Who will implement this idea?

Both my husband and I are able to work towards making this idea a reality. We are a committed team and will draw on additional resources as required. We both live in South Africa. My husband is blind and able to support this full time, I have other commitments which afford me the opportunity to travel to the other countries in Africa and will be able to get extended leave from work for the required travel to our 4 benchmark countries to interview the selected companies.

Using a human-centered design approach, you may uncover insights that lead to small or foundational changes to your organization’s existing strategy or processes in order to unlock the potential of your idea. How would your organization go about making such changes?

Since it's just my husband and I, we talk about this almost on a daily basis and bounce ideas off each other, sharing new things we've heard, read or discussed with someone. This makes it easy for us to pivot and interate our idea.

What is it that most attracted you to Amplify instead of a more traditional funding model?

It is most definitely the opportunity to learn more about the human-centered design approach and the opportunity to get feedback from a global audience on an open-innovation platform. We've not been disappointed either - the journey has been fanstastic - we've learnt so much and feel confident that we can make our idea a reality even if we don't end up winning this specific challenge and that is actually priceless.

What challenges do your end-users face? (1) What is the biggest challenge that your end-users face on a day-to-day, individual level? (2) What is the biggest systems-level challenge that affects your end-users?

If we focus just on the first sector, namely banking, the day-to-day challenge our end users face is a system which do not cater for them and exclude them from participation in banking which is central to independence. Blind people are forced to give their pin numbers to others because there is not a single talking ATM in South Africa. Wheelchair users often struggle to get into the doors of banks and it doesn't get better for them after that. Sign language users have no-one who speaks their language and often leave the bank without being helped due to communication barriers. The system-level challenge is that disabled people in Africa are not wealthy as a group, so the only reason why private sector companies would bother is from a compliance or legal perspective which is not enforced.

Tell us about your vision for this project: (1) share one sentence about the impact you would like to see from this project in five years and (2) what is the biggest question you need to answer to get there?

Impact: By 2021 we aim to have globally recognised accessibility benchmark reports for the majority of industry sectors which has measurably improved the way in which the private sector in at least South Africa interact with and provide for their customers with a disability. At a conservative estimate this impacts at least 5 million adults. Question: What are other levers that we can influence to create more urgency for the private sector to change and become more accessible?

How long have you and your colleagues been working on this idea together?

  • Between 6 months and 1 year

How many of your team’s paid, full-time staff are currently based in the location where the beneficiaries of your proposed idea live?

  • Under 5 paid, full-time staff

Is your organization registered in the country you intend to implement your idea in?

  • We are registered in all countries where we plan to implement.

My organization's operational budget for 2016 was:

  • Under $50,000 USD

If your team/idea/organization has a website, please share the URL below.

We don't have a website at the moment, since we've been generating enough work through word of mouth. Developing this will be our next important step so that we're able to distribute the reports effectively. Despite the fact that our current budget is modest, I'm proud of the fact that my husband and I have been taking turns for the past 5 years to chair the board of trustees who manage the sectional title complex where we live with an annual budget of R1.2 million rand.
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Attachments (2)

User Experience Maps.pdf

This is a set of three difference use cases based on the stakeholders we see interacting with the Accessible Banking Benchmark Report and the outcomes for end-users.

Accessible Benchmark Report_2017-06-01.pdf

This is a summary of the current iteration of our idea at the end of the Improve phase of the challenge. We think it has grown a lot from the first iteration and would like to thank everyone at IDEO, and the expert reviewers as well as all the people who listened to and commented on our idea.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Estelle Martinson

We've included responses to the review questions in the Accessible Benchmark Report attachment, once again thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment on our idea.

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