Introducing Transreport’s Accessibility and Inclusion Manager Emma Partlow. She is an experienced researcher, and teacher and advocates for Equality, Diversity, and Human Rights. Emma can often be found travelling nationwide with Luna her assistance dog and will be hosting a seminar at Naidex on 22nd March where she will draw upon her own lived experiences of navigating rail and aviation travel with Luna.
I specialise in accessibility and inclusion through my own lived experiences of being disabled and ten years of research into the lived experiences of disabled people with a focus on legislative and policy impact. I will shortly be Dr Partlow and continue to publish within this area.
I have experience working within the railway industry specialising in accessibility and previously have undertaken a range of roles and research projects that focus specifically on inclusion and diversity.
1 in 5 people in the UK is disabled, yet in 2023 there remain huge barriers that disabled people are facing. The disability employment rate in 2021 was 52.7%, compared to 81.0% for non-disabled people so a gap is present. Throughout my own research, I have developed a critical eye for employment issues and I’m mindful that organisations often want to employ disabled people in order to ‘add’ diversity to their organisations when the reality is more complex.
When I spotted an advert for my role at Transreport that stated within the advert that ‘lived experience’ and ‘an understanding of the Social Model of disability’ was desired I knew that Transreport prioritise accessibility and inclusion and it was clear that this was an organisation I could enter proud of my identity as a disabled person.
As a user of Transreport’s flagship product, Passenger Assistance, I was aware of the difference it is making for disabled and older people using public transport. However, as I learnt more about the company’s inception and mission it was evident that inclusion and accessibility are the founding principles of every conversation, decision and action the team makes.
I quickly knew I wanted to join and contribute to leading the organisation on its journey. Not only because of their contributions to accessibility and inclusivity but because of how they reflected this ethos throughout their organisation and workplace and what this means as a disabled employee.
For example, Transreport prioritises flexible and remote working. For me, this is a game-changer. I love travelling by train and it is beyond empowering knowing that because of the Passenger Assistance app, I can turn up at a station and receive the accessibility support I need. However, as a disabled person who faces chronic fatigue, having the choice to not commute every single day means that I am a better employee who is more productive. It also means that I have energy left for arguably the most important things in life, like reading a bedtime story with my daughter at the end of the day or spending time with my husband, friends, and family. In turn, this means when I am at work I am engaged and motivated because of the work-life balance it creates.