Thursday, April 18, 2024

CIBC FirstCaribbean staff benefit from disability awareness training


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CIBC FirstCaribbean is now the first bank in Barbados whose staff has undergone special sensitivity training in order to better serve its customers who have disabilities.

Thirty branch ambassadors and other retail staff drawn from all branches of the regional bank recently participated in a Sensitivity Training Workshop for Persons with Disabilities, facilitated by the Barbados Council for the Disabled and held at their headquarters, Harambee House, Garrison, St Michael.

Manager, retail banking channels at CIBC FirstCaribbean Paige Bryan hailed the three-day workshop as a “ground-breaking opportunity for the bank and the Barbados Council for the Disabled since this type of training has never been done with a financial institution in Barbados before”.

“We are mindful of our special-needs customers and we want our staff to be open-minded and to understand the challenges faced by persons who have special needs,” Bryan told participants and members of the council during a brief opening ceremony on the first day of the training.

She said the staff at the bank’s Broad Street branch were praised for recognising and responding to the needs of customers with disabilities and she wanted to see that approach “replicated at our six other branches”.

She noted that it was as a result of negative feedback from some customers with disabilities that the bank contacted the council to conduct the workshop to ensure that all of its key customer-facing staff have a better understanding of the needs of persons with disabilities who conduct business with the bank.

President of the Barbados Council for the Disabled Maria Holder-Small said the aim of the workshop was to let the participants “into the world of the disabled” and to “recondition your thinking in the hope that at the end of the day you will have whole new outlook on the world of the disabled”.

She noted that “gone were the days when persons with disabilities were shut away”, instead the disabled community were asserting themselves as “ones who have the same equal rights as able-bodied persons”.

The sessions started with an overview by the operations manager at the council Rosanna Tudor who explained the concept of Fully Accessible Barbados (FAB) as she gave details on the idea behind the signage and why companies are being encouraged to install ramps, not only for wheelchair users but also for persons who develop injuries, those with respiratory challenges, pushing strollers, older people and those carrying heavy loads.

The training then comprised a series of interactive sessions that included language quizzes and practical demonstrations on developing proper lifting and handling techniques, for persons with disabilities. 

Members of the council were selected for the various presentations as they sensitised staff about the daily experiences of individuals who are physically challenged.  Mrs. Rose-Ann Foster-Vaughan who has cerebral palsy gave a jovial presentation, which kept staff engaged, for the first module, entitled Identifying Disabilities.  Her presentation included a language quiz of words which were considered either acceptable or unacceptable to describe persons with disabilities.

Eudalie Wickham-Ashby, presented the second module entitled Understanding the Visually Impaired.  She gave practical insight to the participants as she is also visually impaired. She highlighted the coping mechanisms for persons who are blind and explained to those sighted persons how they can help a blind or visually impaired person.

Module 3 concentrated on the introduction to sign language for the hearing impaired by Heather Grazette-Corbin and the correct methods for lifting and handling was presented by Atiba Aluka, who focused on the transporting of wheelchair users via ramps and steps and the benefits of proper lifting techniques.

The training concluded with an evaluation and presentation of certificates to the staff and outstanding members of the Council.

Many of the participants said they were really happy to have attended the sessions. They added it gave them an understanding of the challenges that persons with disabilities face while attempting to do everyday things which persons without disabilities do as a matter of course.

A number of staff members also committed to volunteering with the council and becoming advocates for persons with disabilities. (PR)


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