Flawed business contracts to blame for bad experiences of disabled airline passengers, says BDF

Flawed contracts between airlines, airports and suppliers are likely to blame for the often-reported poor experiences of disabled passengers, Business Disability Forum (BDF) has said. 

The experiences of passengers such as BBC Correspondent Frank Gardner, who was stranded aboard an EasyJet plane for over half an hour upon arrival at Gatwick Airport due to his disability, can be linked to the supply agreements set up between airlines and providers of third-party technology.

More than 60 per cent of deals between companies and outsourced suppliers do not include disability in negotiations, research by BDF found in 2016.

Similarly, only one in four businesses reviewed contracts with suppliers to ensure they delivered on requirements for accessibility.

This means that while businesses like EasyJet, Gatwick Airport and assistive equipment provider OCS, who were involved in the Gardner case, may have strong commitments to disability, their work could be being undermined by these kinds of gaps in service contracts.

In the case of Frank Gardner, all three organisations should have ensured that good disability practice was a key part to the working agreements between them and an essential criterion for performance measures.

Rather than letting these contracts or relationships get in the way as they did here, BDF has recommended using contract reviews to keep disability at the forefront of partnerships between different businesses and ensure it is also built in to the outcome of joint projects.

This kind of strong working relationship with third party suppliers will be the subject of BDF’s 2017 conference in April, Disability-smart suppliers and partners at the Royal College of Nursing.

The conference will see new guidance launched on ensuring supplier and partner contracts factor in disability using the learning from the 2016 research paper ‘Disability smart approaches to engaging suppliers and partners’.

For more information and booking details for BDF’s 2017 conference please visit: http://businessdisabilityforum.org.uk/networking-and-events/bdf-conference/

Business Disability Forum (BDF) is a world-leading membership body bringing together business and the public sector to build disability-smart organisations. BDF has more than 25 years’ experience of working with public and private sector employers and service providers. For more information about the Forum please visit: http://businessdisabilityforum.org.uk/about-us.

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