Kim Dalli

Corporate Affairs Senior Executive, Vodafone Malta

Kim Dalli is the Corporate Affairs Senior Executive at Vodafone Malta. She handles Vodafone’s PR and external relations as well as being a board member and secretary to the Vodafone Malta Foundation, a non-profit organisation dedicated to driving social change. Prior to joining Vodafone, she worked as a journalist.

Welcoming customers with disabilities

Wednesday 07th June 2017

The news that a visually impaired man with a guide dog was refused entry to a local eatery sparked a strong public outcry.

And while the restaurant apologised for its treatment of the gentleman in question, the incident served to further highlight the need for businesses across the board to hone their customer care skills to ensure that customers with disabilities were being adequately served.

Vodafone Malta recently engaged the Commission for the Rights of Persons with Disability (CRPD) to provide all its frontline workers, both at retail outlets as well as at the call centre, with training on how to welcome customers with disabilities and provide the best possible customer experience.

Preventing discrimination is not just required by law – it makes good business sense. Failing to provide accessible premises and services could force some customers to avoid your business or file a complaint of discrimination, in turn leading to reputational risk.

In truth, making it easier for persons with a disability means making it easier for everybody. Vodafone recognises that clear, easy to read signs, for instance, benefit every customer. A doorway or ramp which facilitates access for a wheelchair user is also useful for a parent with a pram.

But improving access does not only mean removing physical barriers. It also involves adjusting policies, procedures and outdated attitudes towards disabled people.

Effective communication is key to achieving a fully accessible environment. The one universal rule is to never assume you know what assistance, if any, a disabled person requires. Always ask if, and what, type of assistance they need.

Thanks to the CRPD, here are some etiquette tips to employ, depending on a person’s different abilities:

Persons with mobility impairment

  • Treat adults as adults, not as children.
  • As much as possible, maintain the same eye-level as a wheelchair user by sitting down on a chair. Come round to their side of high counters. 
  • A person’s wheelchair is an extension of the person’s personal space. Never push a wheelchair without the user’s consent.

Persons with visual impairment:

  • When meeting a blind person, always introduce yourself. 
  • Orient the person by explaining the surroundings. Tell the customer clearly how much their items cost.
  • Don’t leave the customer talking to an empty space. Tell them before you move away. 
  • If they give you cash, count the change out aloud, coin by coin, as you place it in the customer’s hand.

Persons who are deaf or hard of hearing:

  • Don’t shout! If you are not being understood, try writing.
  • To grab a deaf person’s attention, tap lightly on their back or wave your hand.
  • Speak directly to the disabled person, even if accompanied by an interpreter or companion.

Persons with an intellectual impairment:

  • Many people with intellectual disabilities lead independent lives. Begin by assuming the person will understand you and speak like you would to anybody else.
  • Keep all your communication simple. Avoid jargon. 
  • If necessary ask the person to bring along someone who can provide the appropriate support.

Persons with mental health issues:

  • Be patient and be prepared to explain more than once.
  • Give the person time to make decisions.
  • If the person poses challenging behaviour, calm them and do not argue with them.

George Mangion

Senior Partner, PKF Malta

Avoiding A Supply/Demand Mismatch In The Property Market

July 2018

Whilst rising prices are typically a sign of positive growth, a sustained increase in house prices should not be taken lightly.

John Montanaro

SME/SOHO Development and Support Manager, Vodafone Malta

The Importance Of Supporting Frontline Staff

July 2018

In the eyes of your customers, your frontline staff is the face of the company, where first impressions are formed.

Joseph Micallef

Chief Operations Officer at BEAT

The Move Towards Lean Digitalisation

July 2018

It is an undeniable fact that we are currently seeing the evolution of businesses towards the use of digital technologies.

David Galea

Chief Executive Officer, BEAT

Digital Disruption – Should You Be Concerned?

July 2018

As disruption envelops organisations across industries, we will probably need to put aside our management textbooks and reinvent ourselves and the way we think.

Roberta Lepre

Dr Roberta Lepre is a warranted advocate and CSR consultant at

Shout Out About Your CSR Commitments!

June 2018

While some companies take action to fulfil their social and environmental responsibilities, they then fail to communicate their efforts to relevant stakeholders. Here's why it's a missed opportunity.

George Mangion

Senior Partner, PKF Malta

Latvia Banks - Enter The Three Ugly Sisters

June 2018

Latvia is currently awash with allegations of money laundering and corruption, arising out of illicit flow of Russian funds.