Is That Business Special Needs Certified?
By Julie Lovell
A new website, Specialneedscertified.com, is linking people with special needs with retailers, restaurants and services that want their business. When you visit the site, you'll find businesses that have undergone online training so they can better serve people with special needs.
The Hall family of Woodstock, Georgia has a three-year-old daughter with spina bifida, and has used the website to find special needs-friendly restaurants and theaters.
"For us to go into a restaurant and be overlooked, or get the feeling that my child is being a pain, that definitely bothers me," says Sean Hall. "When we go out and spend money, we want to be treated like anyone else. Special Needs Certified is showing businesses they need to give us that experience."
Educating Businesses to Treat Special Needs Families with Dignity
Special Needs Certified owner Lindsey Turner realized the need for this type of training after he founded a non-profit organization that provides recreational opportunities for people with special needs.
"Through the Golden Soldiers non-profit, I've become friends with many special needs families," says Turner. "It's really been eye-opening to see the challenges they encounter when they get out in their communities. Special Needs Certified wants to educate businesses, so people with special needs are treated with the dignity they deserve. "
Turner hopes as Special Needs Certified expands and trains more businesses, people with special needs will feel more comfortable getting out to enjoy their communities.
"It's a win-win situation for businesses and people with special needs," says Turner. "More businesses are beginning to realize that customers with special needs can provide a vital, loyal customer base if they are cared for properly."
Special needs families like the Halls agree.
"When they're making it a point to go above and beyond to train employees to better handle people with special needs, I definitely am more willing to do business with them," says Sean Hall. "Now, if we're going to get haircuts or go to dinner, we go to Specialneedscertified.com and use it to find whatever kind of business we're looking for. It's easy to use, and it's a very phone-friendly site as well."
Since Special Needs Certified opened for business in Georgia last fall, more than 60 businesses have undergone training. The company's long-term goal is to extend its reach across the country. So far, employees at businesses in Georgia, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Tennessee and South Carolina have been trained. During training, employees learn about the population with special needs, engaging with them and serving them with respect and care.
Turner says he hopes individuals with special needs will visit specialneedscertified.com often to find businesses working to treat them well. On the website, they'll also find a discussion feature, where they can share customer experiences and engage with other people impacted by special needs. In addition, Turner hopes they will encourage other businesses to get the affordable online training.
For more information about Special Needs Certified, visit www.specialneedscertified.com.
About the author:Julie Lovell is a freelance writer and producer who is always looking for a good story! She's married to a funny guy, and is the mother of two awesome sons, one of whom has cerebral palsy. All three find ways to keep her laughing, even when she's knee-deep in transition-planning paperwork. Julie has a heart for sharing stories about people with special needs, and advocating for those who face challenges. Pre-Register for Abilities Expo Today...It's Free!