#AskForChange: Cassy challenges businesses to be fully accessible
At 20 years old, Cassy is a social butterfly.
She loves spending time with her friends and fiancé, Dan. She’s played (and won) boccia competitions at the state and national level and is a self-confessed gym junkie.
Cassy has grand plans for 2020 – she is launching her own business and moving in with Dan as they prepare for married life. One of her biggest challenges, though? “I just want to order a coffee by myself,” she says.
Sometimes the challenge, though, is getting people to talk in the first place.
For someone as independent as Cassy, it can be incredibly frustrating. She explains that people often assume she can’t communicate, choosing to speak to Dan or Cassy’s support worker instead.
“When I’m out with Dan, I will start talking to someone and they will turn to him to finish my sentences. Or if I’m with my support worker, people speak to her instead of me. There is this assumption that they are more cognitively able than me, because they can talk,” says Cassy.
For Cassy, the lack of awareness and training, and limited access to communication tools and resources are massive barriers to her independence. She believes that businesses have a responsibility to provide tools such as picture communication boards for people with a disability as part of their regular customer service. If they did, then she would be able to confidently order her own coffee, do her shopping, or even have more of a social chat with these people.
Good communication is good business
Places like Bundoora Park Cafe make Cassy feel included. They are one of the many businesses that have been awarded Scope’s Communication Access Symbol. This means that the staff are welcoming, respectful and, most importantly to Cassy, they have the tools they need to speak with someone who has a communication difficulty.
Cassy is proudly supporting Scope’s #AskForChange initiative, and she’s calling for more businesses to become communication accessible in 2020.
As Cassy says, “People just need to try. We also need to make people more aware of how many people in Australia have a communication disability. Don’t talk to the person with them – and don’t freak out if you see someone in a wheelchair. Just try to have a conversation!”