More than 120 businesses have signed up to a Blue Mountains initiative that helps make them more inclusive since it was launched six months ago.
The Are You Inclusive program helps businesses and services cater for customers with invisible disabilities such as intellectual disability and autism. It has been embraced across the Blue Mountains and Nepean regions, with a wide range of industries registering including retail, transport, health, sport and fitness, hospitality, and community services.
The program provides training to businesses in communicating and attending to customers with invisible disabilities. More than 480 people have completed the training, rating it highly.
"We're excited to continue rolling out the project throughout the Blue Mountains and Nepean regions and look forward to getting even more businesses and services on board," said project manager Dr Annie Brennan.
Hope Tree Framing & Art in Katoomba was the 100th business to sign up to the program.
"We have always strived to be inclusive of people with disabilities at Hope Tree, however, we felt that becoming apart of the 'Are You Inclusive?' program would better help us serve the individual needs of our existing and potential clients," said director Neil Haigh.
Kaye Allen of Honey Gem Nursery in Springwood has also praised the program.
"It reminded me to listen more carefully and be more patient. It made me realise that it's not just people with physical disabilities that need help. I notice now that some people just need a bit of extra time," she said.
Locals with disability have noted how much the Are You Inclusive project benefits them.
"It has made shopping better," said Ryan Burns-Thornley.
"I like the sticker and I like to find shops with the sticker," said Vanessa Tuke.
The Are You Inclusive project is provided free of charge by DARE Disability Support, with funding from an NDIS Information Linkages and Capacity-Building grant, in partnership with the Blue Mountains Economic Enterprise, with support from the Blue Mountains City Council. For more details visit www.areyouinclusive.com.au, or contact Dr Annie Brennan on 0414 835 831