New online course creates more welcoming environments for disabled customers looking to be active

EFDS logoA new online course launched by the English Federation of Disability Sport (EFDS) is set to improve disabled people’s experiences in sport and physical activity facilities.

The ‘Delivering an excellent service for disabled customers’ training module means organisations can upskill their workforce and create more welcoming environments for everyone.

Various research has found that an unwelcoming environment can affect most people’s impression of a business, facility or club. For disabled customers, more than eight in 10 have taken their business elsewhere after experiencing poor customer care[i].

As a result, many organisations are missing out on the numerous benefits that disabled customers can offer as a large proportion of our population. This includes those in the sport and fitness sectors.

The training, created through EFDS’s Inclusive Fitness Initiative (IFI) programme, will support more organisations to reap the rewards of satisfied disabled customers and make active lives possible. Now the national charity, dedicated to disabled people in sport and physical activity throughout England, is eager for people to sign up.

There are over 400 IFI Mark accredited facilities and although the training is essential for the staff at these sites, any businesses and individual can register for the course. This includes all front of house leisure centre staff e.g. receptionists, catering and support staff, fitness assistants, membership advisors, activity or class leaders and centre managers.

The cost can be as little as at £6 per trainee and learners are not required to have any prior knowledge or experience of disability and inclusion.

The IFI Mark is an accreditation awarded to leisure facilities which enable disabled people to become physically active. It provides an inclusive platform for disabled and non-disabled people to be active together.

’Delivering an excellent service for disabled customers’ explores inclusive customer service, perceptions of disability, effective communication, legislation and much more. Completing the course can help to ensure everyone plays their part in creating a welcoming environment for disabled people.

Many disabled people feature within the e-learning course. They include, Vanessa, a wheelchair user who regularly exercises in gyms. She said:

“The best customer service is almost the one that you don’t really notice. Don’t condescend, don’t change your tone. Just treat everyone as an individual.”

David Monkhouse, Director at Leisure-net Solutions Ltd, was one of the first to undertake the new training. He said:

“Assisting colleagues to have a greater understanding of disabled customers’ needs is an excellent idea. The modular approach and varied content make this a very accessible training resource.  In particular the interviews with disabled customers really brought home to me the need to improve how our teams can create an excellent customer experience.”

Dawn Hughes, from EFDS’s IFI Programme, is excited about the potential impact on disabled people’s participation. She said:

“At present, only two out of every 10 disabled people are active regularly. This training will benefit those who complete it and their workplaces, to ensure more disabled people can be active in welcoming environments.”

For more information or to access the course visit www.efds.co.uk/inclusive_fitness/staff_training or contact the IFI Team on email ifi@efds.co.uk or phone 01509 227750.

For more information on EFDS, visit www.efds.co.uk

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