We finally live in an era where discrimination is severely frowned upon. However, there are still many areas in our society where people with disabilities face significant barriers.
In fact, according to the World Bank, an estimated 15% of the world’s population, or about a billion people, lives with some form of disability, and yet most businesses do not take the necessary steps to make their products or services accessible to this sizable demographic.
As a business owner, you can help break down these barriers and show your commitment to social responsibility by making your business more accessible to people with disabilities.
Here are 10 tips on how you can do just that:
1. Make Your Physical Business Premises Accessible
This may seem like an obvious one, but it’s important to ensure that your business space is physically accessible for individuals with different types of disabilities. This includes things like having wheelchair-accessible entrances, ramps, wide aisles, and well-lit hallways.
Unfortunately, most owners stop at a ramp and think they’ve done enough. There’s a whole host of different physical disabilities that need to be taken into account, so it’s important to do your research and consult with experts like Olejar Safety to ensure that your business space is as inclusive as possible.
2. Learn From Customer Feedback
You can’t grow if you don’t listen, and in this case, you need to listen to your disabled customers. See what they like and don’t like about your business, what’s working well and what needs improvement.
You can gather this feedback in a number of ways, such as conducting customer surveys, holding focus groups, or simply taking the time to talk to your disabled customers directly. This heads-on approach will probably yield the best results, but the other ones we’ve mentioned should do the trick, as well.
3. Accommodate Customers With Disabilities In Your Customer Service Practices
One of the most important aspects of running a successful business is providing excellent customer service. This is especially true when accommodating customers with disabilities, as they may have specific needs that need to be taken into account.
Some things you can do to make your customer service more inclusive include having trained staff who are familiar with the needs of disabled customers, providing alternative communication channels (such as text-based or read-aloud chat), and offering assistance with things like reading menus or filling out forms.
4. Train Your Staff On How To Serve Customers With Disabilities
Apart from fully accessible premises, training your staff is the most important thing you can do to make your business more inclusive for disabled customers.
Your employees should be trained on how to interact with and accommodate customers with different types of disabilities. This training should cover things like using inclusive language, respecting personal space, and being aware of different types of disabilities (such as invisible disabilities).
5. Allow For Flexibility In Your Product Offerings And Delivery Methods
In order to make your products and services accessible to as many people as possible, you need to be willing to be flexible in how you offer them. This may mean offering alternative delivery methods (such as home delivery or pick-up) or providing customizations to your products or services.
For example, if you’re a clothing retailer, you could offer to hem pants for customers who use wheelchairs or to add braille labels to garments for customers who are blind or have low vision. If you’re a restaurant, you could offer to deliver meals to customers who can’t leave their homes or to provide Braille menus for customers who are blind.
6. Allow For Services Animals On-Premises
Services animals are arguably the backbone of many disabled people’s lives, so it’s important to allow them into your business premises. This is especially true if you operate in a public space, such as a retail store or restaurant.
Of course, there are some exceptions to this rule (such as if the animal is disruptive or poses a health hazard; which is rarely the case but it does happen), but, in general, you should allow service animals into your business without issue.
7. Use Signage Or Audio/Visual Aids To Guide Individuals With Disabilities
Signage is extremely vital in these scenarios. By utilizing both standard and Braille signage, you can help guide individuals with different types of disabilities around your business premises.
In addition to this, you can also use audio/visual aids, such as video descriptions or captioning, to help people with disabilities engage with your products or services.
8. Be Flexible About Working Hours And Promote Remote Work
It’s not just customers with disabilities you need to attend to – it’s your employees, as well. Most companies nowadays are pretty good about promoting flexible work hours, but it’s still something that needs to be addressed.
Allowing your employees with disabilities to work remotely or have a flexible schedule can go a long way in making your business more inclusive (and successful), as it can help accommodate things like doctor’s appointments or other commitments.
9. Make Reasonable Accommodations For Employees With Disabilities
Apart from that, you should also be willing to make reasonable accommodations for your employees with disabilities. This may include things like providing assistive technology, modifying workstations, etc.
Making these accommodations can not only make your employees’ lives easier, but it can also make them more productive and engaged in their work.
10. Advocate For Accessibility Legislation And Regulations
Finally, it’s not enough to make a change in your backyard. We have to strive to be better as a society. And that means promoting accessibility for all, whether it’s in the workplace, in schools, or in our public spaces.
One way you can do this is by advocating for accessibility legislation and regulations. This will help ensure that people with disabilities have the same opportunities and rights as everyone else.
This is just the beginning. There are many other things you can do to make your business more accessible to people with disabilities. But by following these tips, you’ll be well on your way to making a difference. That’s our guarantee!