Public-facing businesses should always be looking for new ways to make their customers feel more welcome within their space. By creating a welcoming and comfortable environment, customers are free to browse at their leisure and are more likely to WANT to spend time on your premises.
Whether you run a coffee spot, a bookstore, or a clothing shop, there are simple changes you can make to ensure your business is more accessible. After all, one in four Americans lives with a disability, which can equate to a staggering number of customers that might not feel comfortable in your store if it’s not suited to their needs.
Read on to discover our recommendations.
Educate staff on disability inclusion
Something that’s important to do before you look at changing anything physical about your location is educating your full staff on disability inclusion. The examples set by staff will give customers a clear idea of how accessible a business is and making sure that all staff are well-trained to help customers who may need extra assistance and know-how your business stands out means that you are sending out the right message. With all the positive accessibility upgrades in the world, if your staff aren’t using them correctly or informing customers of their existence they won’t be appreciated.
The team from the Rick Hansen Foundation explains: “Education is the best way to change attitudes and break down barriers for people with disabilities. Providing your staff with training on topics such as how to assist those with mobility devices, interact with service animals, etc, will ensure that everyone is informed on how to accommodate and include all people.”
Ensure disabled access routes are clear
One of the primary upgrades you can make to your space’s accessibility is to ensure disabled access routes are cleared. Throughout your space, take the time to look at places where routes might be compromised; perhaps there is something on the floor narrowing the path? Perhaps a disabled bathroom is being used as extra storage space? Taking the time out to think about how others might perceive your premises will help you realize small errors that you wouldn’t catch in your day-to-day working life.
Ask your community for support
Entrepreneur says: “No one knows your users like, well, your users. If you want to build products that suit their needs, you’ll have to ask them what their needs are first.”
For a small business, there is nothing like the local community for getting feedback. Whether you ask people who use your business frequently or post on local social media groups, talking to the community around you about how you can better adapt offers two advantages: first-hand requests from the people to who it actually makes a difference and promotion.
By reaching out to the people who use (or might potentially use) your business, you can ensure that the changes you make are those that your customers actually want to see. What’s more, if you are doing this in the public domain it will let others know who might not use your business currently that you are making the effort to be more accessible and give them a reason to choose you over competitors. A win-win situation!
Ensure information is easy to access
Accessibility means ensuring that all types of people are able to use your facilities. It doesn’t only mean making your space accessible to those who use a wheelchair or other mobility aids but can include making your space open to those with other needs such as difficulty hearing or viewing. Making the effort to ensure the necessary information is made easy to access is essential for those who might struggle otherwise.
Fresh Cup explains what this might look like in a café scenario: “Some menus are hard to read if they’re written in light colors, lightly written on the board, or not organized well with cluttered information. Also, very few establishments have menus available in print form for those who may have difficulty viewing; or, if there are printed menus provided, the menus may not be available in braille or large print. All of these can prevent patrons from knowing what to order and the cost of items, and from being engaged in the buying process altogether.”
How to make your business more accessible:
- Educate staff on disability inclusion
- Ensure disabled access routes are clear
- Ask your community for support
- Ensure information is easy to access
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