The world is becoming increasingly aware that there are plenty of barriers out there that are making the lives of customers with disabilities harder daily. Not only is this wrong from a human perspective, but it is also potentially harmful to your business as a whole. After all, you could be inadvertently putting off a huge customer base. Also, you can generate a great positive image for yourself. With this in mind, making your business more accessible should be at the forefront of what you are doing as a company. Here are a few of the ways that you can do this.
Start with a Good First Impression
When people first approach your business, they should be able to gain a great first impression right from the offset. This means putting in ramps and automatic doors to help people who have mobility issues. This can also be helpful to parents who are coming in with strollers. If your storefront is not accessible, a big percentage of your customer base may be simply put off from visiting. You should also consider accessibility for any hard-of-hearing customers such as hearing aid enhancements at the checkout. You also need to think of your first impression from the point of view of customers who are encountering your company for the first time online. You may not have thought of this before, but there are various accessibility issues for visually impaired people accessing websites that you can address to make their lives easier.
Clear Away Any Clutter
Once the customers are inside your store, you then want to ensure that their journey around the place is as straightforward as possible and not interrupted. This means spacing out all of the aisles properly, as well as ensuring shelves are kept tidy, and nothing is left hanging around on the floor. Not only is this important from an accessibility perspective, but it will also create an overall better impression on customers visiting the store for the first time. If your shop is messy, this automatically implies disorder, and people may be tempted to go elsewhere.
Make Print Materials Accessible
Most stores have various print materials around the place – whether these come in the form of signposts or company marketing materials. Putting some Braille on all of this can help out people who have some level of sight loss. If you are running a food and drink business, it can help to have pictures on your menu as this can help with the ordering process. Not only this, but you have the opportunity to make everything look as delectable as possible!
Create an Accessible Bathroom
While not every store has a bathroom inside it, you should make it an accessible one if yours does. This means having a door that is wide enough to be used by people in wheelchairs and putting in a grab bar at the side and the back of the toilet. There should also be enough space to spin around comfortably. Many of these bathrooms also have a way of indicating if the person inside is in need of any assistance.
Adjust the Lighting
Another potential issue that you can seek to address inside your store is the lighting. It should be adjusted to properly meet the needs of both your customers and your employees as well. While dimmed lighting can sometimes be used to create a certain atmosphere, it may not be the easiest to read in. If you want to maintain the same atmosphere, you could always provide clip-on lights that can be used on menus or other documents to provide a better level of illumination to those who require it. If you are looking to achieve greater control of the lighting, you can always do so with the use of dimmer switches, etc.
Offer a Flexible Point of Sale System
From a business point of view alone, it makes sense that purchasing from your business is made as straightforward as possible. So, this means making your point-of-sale system flexible. For example, you could put in a portable debit machine, and an extendable cord as this means that customers can pay comfortably from wherever they are located. This helps out people who are in a wheelchair or those who are not tall enough to reach debit card machines at your till.
Arrange Sensitivity Training
While your business’s physical aspects may be set up to be as accommodating as possible, you also need to think of the attitudes of your staff members. Education is the best way of combatting any pre-existing prejudices, which is why it is certainly worthwhile launching some sensitivity training courses. This way, staff members can be made aware of all of the different barriers that some customers face daily and how they can play a central role in breaking some of these down.
Consider High Shelves
Shelves that are located too high up can prove to be a problem – and you certainly do not want to cause any accidents as items can topple down on people. Therefore, you should make sure that staff members are on hand to fetch down anything that is required on higher surfaces. Alternatively, you could create a more accessible shelving system in which products are more reachable.
None of the changes that have been listed in the article above are overly radical. Indeed, a lot of them are easy enough to achieve, but they can make such a significant difference to the lives of many of your customers that they should not be overlooked any longer. Not only is this a great thing to do from a humanitarian perspective, but it also makes sense from a business point of view as well. Essentially, if you are widening up your business to an increasing number of customers, you are going to be able to increase your sales. It is a simple enough thought, but it is also one that far too many company owners overlook and do not think about implementing the changes.