Autism Friendly Business Initiative

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors. Autism is referred to as a spectrum disorder due to the range of severity within the diagnostic boundaries.

Autism affects 1 in 68 children in the U.S. with 1 in 42 boys being diagnosed with autism. It can also affect any individual regardless of ethnicity, where they live, or how much money they make. Today, more than 3.5 million Americans live with autism spectrum disorder.

The Autism Friendly Business Initiative focuses on encouraging and training local businesses in the area of Autism Awareness, Acceptance, and Appreciation. Our vision is to see our community become not only welcoming to individuals with autism spectrum disorder, but where those individuals can become valued, participating members. The Autism Friendly Business Initiative is a unique collaboration of parents, professionals and community members who provide quality support and training that is accessible to all businesses to create a platform for autism awareness. Thus, we have developed a 3-level system to ease businesses into understanding and accepting and potentially hiring our citizens with autism spectrum disorder.

The AFBI logo communicates that a particular business is the “place” for those with autism to find understanding through education and a ‘judgment free’ zone for them and their families. The symbol will be available in many forms including a window decal placed on the inside of a certified business and digitally for social media and on local community websites. Families, or individuals with ASD, would enter the business and expect to be received and treated as any other member of our community.

There are three levels

(each level requires certification at the previous level):

  • Connector.

    Level 1

    The business, its managers and employees have made a public commitment to train its staff in autism awareness. They will view a short film on autism spectrum disorder and answer 3 questions regarding the film, showing that they watched it and are at this level, aware of recognizing the signs that someone may have autism and how they should respond.

  • Connector.

    Level 2

    The business has made small modifications/adjustments to their premises to improve access to those with autism in order to better them.

  • Connector.

    Level 3

    The business has committed to reviewing hiring strategies and promoting a supportive work environment to individuals with ASD.

FEAT of Louisville and the Autism Friendly Community working group focuses on training and supporting businesses to breakdown education and perceptional barriers to welcome and support customers with autism and their families. We provide the opportunity to businesses of any size to receive autism awareness certification and ongoing support. Our approach is simple and straightforward.

Join the growing number of businesses in Kentuckiana who want to set themselves apart from others by investing in compassionate and exceptional customer service and enriching the economy with a specialized workforce.

The Benefits

SALES AND REVENUE
  • Attract new customers
  • Rise in Profit
  • Increased Customer Satisfaction
  • Enhance your brand and help new customers find you
MARKETING AND PR
  • Promotion via website, social media, newsletters and media outreach to local news outlets on your behalf through FEAT of Louisville
  • Provide rich customer experience
  • Improved reputation
  • Generation of referrals and increased business
CUSTOMER SERVICE SKILLS
  • Ability to welcome customers with special needs and their families without fear
  • Offering exceptional customer service experiences creates a positive effect on employees
  • Skills to provide compassionate customer service and provide a positive experience
  • Knowledge and confidence to accommodate ALL customers

The Process

INITIAL CONTACT
  1. Contact an Autism Friendly Business Initiative.
  2. Complete assessment of current business structure.
EMPLOYEE TRAINING
  1. The training begins with a short video segment that will provide the necessary tools for your employees to begin offering compassionate customer service to families with disabilities. Together, a time will be scheduled when your employees may view the training material.
  2. Add AFBI training material to your “new employee” training orientation to ensure that business is in compliance with minimum requirements of number of staff trained.
MARKETING

Once certified at Level 1, your business will become visible to the autism community and our extensive network of families, first through the FEAT of Louisville website and then through various avenues of print and social media

ONGOING SUPPORT
  1. For continued support you may contact FEAT of Louisville for additional questions and resources.
  2. We can assist you as your company moves through the remaining levels of the Autism Friendly Business Initiative which will continue to propel your company within our community.

Let’s Begin

To receive the ranking of becoming an Autism Friendly Business, the following criteria must be met:

  • Business will agree that all upper level management submits to the same training as employees. This enables management to create compassionate and exceptional customer service from the top down
  • 80% of employees who personally deal with customers must be trained
  • Training for level 1 will include access to a 10-minute online video with a required, brief, assessment to ensure that the video was viewed and understood
  • Certified business will keep available “feedback questionnaire cards”, provided by the Autism Friendly Business Initiative, for all customers to complete as requested
  • For business with multiple locations, 80% of employees from each location must be trained via the online videos in order for each location to receive certification

Annual Re-certification

The Autism Friendly Business Initiative requires that re-certification be completed on an annual basis (this pertains to level 1 particularly) and on a date specified by your AFBI Representative. Because we believe that empowerment comes through knowledge, we want to keep you abreast of new material or modifications that will enable even your newest employees to provide compassionate customer service**.

**Because level 1 is online training, as new employees join your business, you can request access to the online training as part of your own new employee training.

Training for the business can begin as soon as an agreed upon date is set and all paperwork is signed.

The relationship may be terminated if and when any of the following conditions occur:

  • Training falls below 80% or
  • After 3 warnings* (at level 1)

*If Business receives 3 or more complaints from the customer feedback cards, a meeting with an AFBI Representative will be requested to discuss a reasonable remediation plan. If the plan is not successfully met within 60 days, certification may be revoked.

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