Secret checks push disability compliance

The Disability Rights Commission (CDRC) is to organise ‘secret shopper’ investigations of company and public buildings as part of its latest campaign to ensure access for disabled people is improved.

DRC campaigns manager Tom Berry said that, as part of this push, the commission would use data from the investigations to promote to businesses what they need to do to comply with the 1995 Disability Discrimination Act.

This requires all businesses and organisations to take reasonable steps to improve access by October next year.

The naming and shaming of firms and organisations that aren’t taking reasonable steps once the act comes into force is an option being considered.

Berry stressed that the DRC would not make unreasonable demands of businesses. ‘The difficulty with this kind of legislation is that there is no one size that fits all. What is applicable to a supermarket may not be appropriate for a corner shop,’ he said.

This latest PR push, which launches next month, will also target the disabled, explaining what they can do under the new regulations to force companies to make changes.

As part of the media relations campaign the DRC is planning a celebrity-led photo shoot later in the year.

How best to promote the new laws to the broadcast media is currently under review.

For the launch, on 3 October, the results of an NOP survey into attitudes among the disabled towards access provision will be revealed.

The DRC will be assisted on the campaign by Exposure, which won the account from a shortlist that also included Hill & Knowlton, Citigate Communications and GCI.

The present campaign is the latest move by the Commission to promote the provisions of the Disability Act. In 2001 the Commission appointed Furner Communications to spearhead a strategy promoting the DRC’s advice on the new laws (PRWeek, 11 May 2001).

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