The Strabane BID have launched a campaign to support people with a learning difficulty, autism or a communication barrier by becoming the first town in the UK and Ireland to become a JAM Card Friendly district.
Carriers of a JAM Card with communication difficulties can show it to trained members of staff at local businesses as a discrete and easy way of telling them they may have special requirements and may need a little extra time.
The launch of the campaign at Strabane Library was hosted by Council’s Access and Inclusion project in partnership with the Public Health Agency and had representation from NOW Group and Equality Commission NI who explained the initiative and the accompanying Every Customer Counts free toolkit.
Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor Michaela Boyle, said the launch was the beginning of a process that would support those with communications issues and allow local businesses to demonstrate that every customer counts.
“The JAM Card is a simple, effective and non-verbal way to allow people with communication barriers to engage with staff members to ask for any additional help and support they may need,” she said.
“It sends out a positive message to locals and visitors that Strabane businesses value all their customers and that we are an inclusive town, welcoming to all and sensitive to those who may need additional attention.
“I would encourage local businesses to get involved in the application by signing up staff for the E Learning process and getting them JAM Card Friendly certified.”
The JAM Card was originally developed for those with learning disabilities and difficulties but it can be used by anyone with a communication barrier.
It can be used by people with Asperger’s or autism, those with a brain injury or people who otherwise feel self-conscious about their ability to effectively communicate when engaging with others.
Those with a communication barrier are often reluctant or unable to tell others about their condition, the card allows this to happen in a simple, effective non-verbal manner.
Louise Boyce, Access and Inclusion Officer at DCSDC explained: “Northern Ireland has a higher percentage of disabled people than anywhere else in the UK and Republic of Ireland – more than one in five of the population.
“People with a disability are amongst the most marginalised in our society and have often experienced limited opportunities to participate in activities that many of us take for granted including shopping, cultural and social activities.
“The JAM Card tools and training provided through DCSDC’s Access and Inclusion project, in partnership with Public Health Agency go in some way to creating awareness and promoting inclusiveness in everyday life in Strabane businesses.”
Equality Commission NI also attended the launch event to promote the ‘Every Customer Counts’ framework and explained the benefits to BIDS Strabane attendees.
Businesses in Strabane will have access to information on-line that is free through www.equalityni.org.
Leeann Kelly, Business Development Manager, at the NOW Group added:
“We are delighted to be working with Derry City and Strabane District Council as they become JAM Card Friendly.
“It is a pleasure to work alongside a Council that is committed to leading the way to support local businesses.
“This work will lead to Strabane becoming the first JAM Card Friendly town in Northern Ireland.
“Originally developed by our participants with learning difficulties and autism, the JAM card is now being used by a wide range of people facing communication barriers including dementia, brain injury and stroke.
“It is reassuring for customers using the JAM card to know that Strabane Businesses have been trained to recognise that they might sometimes need just a little more time."
Businesses will now have two months to sign up to e-learning process to become JAM Card Friendly through a simply process.
All that is required is email addresses from trainees in each business which is then embedded into the e-learning portal.
They will then have an opportunity to complete on line training and receive a certificate.
If a business has no access to internet there is also opportunity to receive face to face training for groups.
To further compliment this process, marketing materials will be available for businesses who complete the training and a celebration event hosted in The Alley Theatre on Friday 6th December 2019 as part of International Celebrations of Persons with Disabilities.
For further details please contact BIDs Business team on 02871253 253 or firstname.lastname@example.org on 02871 253 253 Extn:4349.