Good access equals good business, and as the demographic shifts to an ageing population the companies that will succeed are ones who meet the needs of elderly and disabled customers. Accessibility embraces four key principles: make it easy for people to find you, enter your premises, move around comfortably and enjoy responsive customer service.
Accessibility is more important than ever
Thanks to the tireless work of disability activists and people in the disabled community, accessibility has been a hot topic over the past few years. Big companies like Target and Kmart have been on the front foot, praised for their efforts to make their marketing and advertising collateral more inclusive to people who are differently abled.
However, true accessibility goes beyond glossy catalogues and ad campaigns. It involves individual companies adapting their physical environments and analysing the ways they provide their products and services to customers. Making people feel valued and welcome is the first step in turning them into customers and advocates of your brand.
Embracing inclusiveness: How to be an accessible-friendly business
Inclusion isn’t just about respecting the true diversity of our communities – it’s smart business thinking. Global inclusion advocate Haben Girma – the first deaf and blind person to graduate from Harvard Law School – has encouraged even more businesses to think about accessibility, expanding their opportunity to reach a potential market of up to 1.3 billion people.
If you have been thinking about ways to make your business more accessible, kudos to you! Here are some ideas to get you started:
1. With any luck you already have a wheelchair accessible entrance. It’s important to keep entryways clear and easy to navigate.
2. If you have steps at the entrance to your business, think about alternative ways to offer your product or services to wheelchair users.
3. Make sure that any signage includes braille or raised lettering, and are written in easy to read fonts on a high contrast background.
4. Are your front doors heavy or difficult to open? These can be difficult for wheelchair users, people with mobility aids or the elderly to operate.
5. Be sure to mark any corners, steps or edges with high visibility paint or tape.
6. Make sure your staff are trained for scenarios involving customers with additional needs, giving them the skills to communicate effectively if someone is hard of hearing.
7. Always be warm and welcoming to service animals!
There are so many ways that businesses can make it easy for people with disabilities to access their services. These changes don’t need to be expensive to implement – in fact the best thing you can do is encourage customer feedback. Accessibility and inclusiveness is always best practice for business.