Mirage News: A passion for digital accessibility and employment earns Life Without Barriers a high score for Innovation

Mirage News: A passion for digital accessibility and employment earns Life Without Barriers a high score for Innovation

This article was originally published on Mirage News and Australian Network of Disability

Participating in the Access and Inclusion Index Benchmark Report in 2016 was like a new door had opened on our accessibility journey as an organisation. The Index sets out what best practice looks like and now, we use it as the foundation for our business planning,” explained Fiona Davies, Manager Diversity and Inclusion, People Safety and Culture at Life Without Barriers.

Fiona went on to say, “We’re aspirational. We want to keep pushing ourselves to do even more”.

As an organisation, Life Without Barriers is passionate about digital accessibility. To embed accessible practice into their operations, they established a new business unit within their Information and Communication Technology (ICT) division called ICT Digital and Innovation.

This team is led by the Manager Digital and Innovation, Scott McShane, who took an innovative approach to digital accessibility by initiating the creation of an Accessibility Guild, which is a first in the community sector. The Guild is a community of practice which brings together ICT teams and accessibility specialists. The ICT team at Life Without Barriers also works closely with the Centre for Inclusive Design, Vision Australia and other partners. Their mission is to take an accessibility first approach to designing systems and solutions for their clients, employees and communities.

By building digital solutions with accessibility as the first consideration, we ensure our systems are inclusive for all users,” Scott said.

With a philosophy of “getting our hands dirty in order to find a solution”, the Life Without Barriers team is always on the lookout for opportunities to do things better. For several years, Life Without Barriers has held thought-leadership forums, called Ideas Without Barriers to focus on particular aspects of disability policy such as employment, housing or transport. Chaired by Board Director, Graeme Innes, the Ideas forums bring senior stakeholders together to discuss solutions to the barriers faced by people with disability.

Another innovation initiated by Life Without Barriers is a joint venture with Angus Knight to create Joblife Employment – a disability employment service focused on finding employment for people with disability, illness and injury. Not only has Joblife created opportunities for thousands of job seekers facing employment barriers, Life Without Barriers has utilised this partnership to work towards its own employment targets. Life Without Barriers has also partnered with Joblife on important initiatives like AccessAbility Day which gives jobseekers with disability valuable work experience and contacts in workplaces.

Employing people with disability helps Life Without Barriers enhance its culture of accessibility and inclusion. Fiona said,

Using our results from the Access and Inclusion Index Benchmark Report as a reason to communicate our successes, helps to keep access and inclusion top of mindIt also helps to keep us accountable.

About the Access and Inclusion Index

The Access and Inclusion Index is Australia’s foremost corporate benchmarking tool for inclusion of people with disability. It supports organisations to assess their performance across 10 key business areas, which contributes to an overall score out of 100.

No matter where you are on the journey to disability confidence, the Index helps you:

  • Deeply understand access and inclusion across your organisation
  • Gain insights into areas of strength and opportunity
  • Establish a foundation from which to build disability confidence and capability
  • Set measurable performance goals across key business areas
  • Build awareness and knowledge across your workforce
  • Engage your whole organisation in the access and inclusion agenda
  • Gain a roadmap to accelerate year-on-year progress
  • Formulate a strategic plan for the future

To find out more, or discuss how you can participate in 2020, please contact us on 1300 363 645 or email

Read our Access and Inclusion Index Benchmark Report for more valuable insights into how organisations are making significant progress and staying on course.