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Accessible businesses

Accessibility is important and it even more important if you are a business owner or manage an organization. Ensuring that your business is accessible to all will help you reach the maximum number of customers including from your older customers which also benefit from establishments that are have a universal design.

Things don't have to cost to as much as you think, particularly for one story buildings, and ramps are always fitted cheaper when building. There is also portable ramps that can be purchased for a few hundred dollars, they can potentially be shared by multiplie establishments to save money. Click here to go to our article about portable ramps

Shops also need to have spaces wide enough for wheelchairs and should place items fairly low if possible. If labels are used consider making them with a sans serif font such as Verdana or Geneva. It is a good idea to offer assistance if needed.

Accessibility is not always physical; for example I don't have the ability to talk so if a company only has a phone number on their site that is no good for me. If you they don't answer emails either it can be frustrating, however I can take my business elsewhere. Similarly I have no idea why hotels don't offer room service via email.

In the digital age it is also important make sure that your website is accessible. Some accessibility software have their own browsers and this can be problematic. Of course you have to label images correctly for screen readers. The good news is that there are probably people online that can help with this. We also have a guide on how to build accessible websites.

Mobility parking

mobility parking spot with the blue wheelchair symbol

Accessibility starts before people are in the door. Many places provide priority parking for people with disabilities. This is typically done with a wheelchair symbol.

Some people say that the problem with the wheelchair symbol is it does not work well for people that have invisible disabilities. They may be more prone to getting questions about their whether they are allowed to park in to priortized spot. Modern thinking suggestions initials like S.P. for Special Parking is a way to solve this. Personally I don't like the word special so I think P.P. For Priority Parking is the way to go.

Visibility is key. The more visible the spot is the less likely people will use it when they don't have a right to. Instead of coloring the symbol or letters you should color a background with the item in it. Also rules should be strictly enforced to further prevent abuse.

Obviously the spot should be close to the entrance of the building and near a lip with enough space for a wheelchair to get up. Such spaces are typically wider than regular spaces.

Parking is the first impression that someone has when they visit you; so make it count.

B2C Communications

Accessibility even extends to business to customer (B2C) communications or any communication between an organization and who they are communicating with. If you deal with people you may come across people who cannot talk. Some people can have phone conversations, some people cannot. If your job is to communicate with people, you should take note and respect their preferred communication method.

This is particularly important if you deal with sensitive information for example hospitals and sexual health clinics. If you have privacy protocols you should update them so they are compatible with people that cannot speak. All you have to do is record the person's communication method and train one of your staff to do the communication. It is not hard but I have found in New Zealand that many organizations do not do this, even those in the disability field.

If you are a disability orintated organization it is also critical that you have guidelines in place for accessible communication. You should understand that we have unique needs and for some this includes in the area of communication. Most of us like to be spoken to directly instead of going through a family member or carer.

In today's digital world independent communication for people that cannot talk is more possible than ever. Organizations serious about serving people that have disabilities need to train the appropriate staff members to deal with Email and text.

People with disabilities are about 20% of the population, they also have friends to share positive experiences with. If you neglect people who experience disabilities, you could be neglecting your bottom line. If you are not sure if your business and/or website is accessible there probably would be disability organizations that would want to help, all you have to do is reach out.



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