Business targeting disability dollar

Minnie Baragwanath, CEO of Be. Institute in New Zealand, and former Paralympian swimmer Chris Holmes MBE at Hunter Stadium. Attending a conference at the stadium on disability access at sporting venues and attracting the “yellow” dollar. Picture Max Mason HubersHUNTER businesses could benefit from the ‘‘yellow dollar’’ by making themselves more physically accessible and inclusive to people with a disability, a conference in Newcastle heard on Thursday.
Shanghai night field

International disability advocates joined more than 100 delegates for the Accessible Events = Smart Business Forum at Hunter Stadium.

It came ahead of the region hosting both the International Children’s Games next year and the Special Olympics Asia Pacific Games later this year.

One of the keynote speakers was Minnie Baragwanath chief executive of the Be. Institute in New Zealand.

Baragwanath, who is partially blind, said the Hunter could harness some of the $5 billion yellow tourism dollar.

‘‘People with a disability and their families travel,’’ she said.

‘‘If you’re not clearly accessible you may not lose one person’s business, you may lose three or four people because people do not travel alone.’’

She said accessibility was not just about wheelchair access.

‘‘There are people with hearing, sight, impaired mobility…who need hip replacements – they want someone to cater to their needs.’’

Ms Baragwanath said access also extended to the baby boomers who would have increased access needs as they aged.

‘‘That’s also the group that travels most often and has the most discretionary spending.

‘‘It’s a massive market opportunity.’’

The other keynote speaker was former British parlaympian swimmer Chris Holmes who was the Director of Integration for the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games.

He spoke about spreading wheelchair seats throughout stadiums so people could sit with their families, having audio commentaries and seating vision impaired people near big screens.

However he said accessibility started with training staff to create a culture of accessibility.

‘‘So it’s not just an accessible but an inclusive experience,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s not just about mega-events it’s about events right down to the most local community event.’’


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