Organizational barriers occur when policies, practices, or procedures give people with disabilities fewer opportunities than non-disabled people. Businesses do not create these barriers purposely. Instead, barriers happen because businesses have not thought about how a customer or client with a disability would access their services.
Disability and Organizational Barriers
One example of this type of barrier is a no-refund policy in a clothing store. The policy assumes that every customer can try on clothing in the store’s fitting rooms before buying it. However, the store’s fitting rooms may not be accessible for customers using assistive devices.As a result, these customers cannot try clothing on before they buy it. Therefore, the store’s policy discriminates against people using assistive devices. These customers must buy clothing without knowing whether or not it fits them. If it does not fit, they cannot return it.
In another example, businesses often hire using an online job application process. This practice assumes that every applicant has access to all websites. However, some applicants cannot use certain websites because of information or technology barriers. If the employer’s website is not accessible, many strong candidates may not apply for jobs with that employer.
Moreover, some agencies have policies requiring intake appointments in person. This practice assumes that all customers or clients can travel to and enter the agencies’ buildings. However, some customers can never enter certain buildings or areas because of physical barriers. These customers may need to access service remotely. Therefore, the in-person policy denies them equal opportunities for service.
Barrier Removal Helps Everyone
When businesses change their policies to remove barriers, they can welcome people with and without disabilities. For instance, stores with refund policies welcome all people who cannot use traditional fitting rooms, such as parents with strollers.
Similarly, employers with flexible job application processes can interview more applicants. Likewise, agencies that allow remote appointments can gain clientele based in other places. Therefore, businesses should prevent or remove barriers whenever they can.
Our next article will explain how businesses can find solutions for organizational barriers.