If you own or manage a business, you likely have tried various ways to attract customers and increase sales. However, you might not have considered whether your business has barriers that make it difficult for people with disabilities to access. Millions of people have disabilities that affect their hearing, vision, and mobility, and they may not be engaging with your business because it is inaccessible in one or more ways. Ensuring your business is accessible for everyone makes economic sense, increases your customer base, and makes society more inclusive. To help you get started, here are some things you can consider.
You need to ensure that people can enter and exit the building easily. The easiest way to do this is to install ramps and curb cuts. Both features are crucial for people who use wheelchairs and anyone with mobility issues. They are also an option for parents with strollers.
The other thing you can do is install automatic doors. These open when someone walks up to the building or approaches the door from the inside. Automatic doors benefit people who cannot or do not want to deal with doorknobs or push doors to get into buildings.
Regardless of their ability, no one wants to stumble when they walk into your premises. A floor free of obstacles does not have such hazards and allows customers to walk around the premises freely.
Having clear aisles can be challenging for businesses that need to display items beyond their shelves. It takes conscious thinking and planning to ensure items are displayed like this while allowing full mobility on your business floors.
When customers can access all areas of the business freely without worrying about hazards, they are more likely to spend more time there, enjoy their experience more, and complete purchases.
For businesses that provide parking to their customers, ensuring accessible spaces for those with disabilities is important. These businesses should provide at least one parking spot for people with disabilities and then one for every 25 parking spots. If the business provides 100 parking spots, five should be designated as accessible parking spots for people with disabilities.
Businesses should also keep their parking lots in good order for those using wheelchairs and other mobility solutions. A good way of doing this is asphalt crack sealing, which uses seal coating materials to repair cracks and any other damage. In addition to making it much better for those using mobility solutions, asphalt sealing also slows deterioration, improves curb appeal, and prevents damage caused by things like oil and freeze-thaw cycles.
If the location does not have enough parking spots, consider leasing a parking space with accessible parking spots. Ensure the parking lot is close to the business, as one that is too far introduces an additional barrier to the business.
Once you install ramps and curb cuts, some people will not know they are there or how to use them. Solving this problem entails adding signage that tells people where the ramps and curb suits are. You can also include information on where the most accessible entrances are and how to access them.
It would also be helpful to include your building’s accessibility features on your signage. Doing so benefits not only the customers who are already on the premises but also potential ones who will see the signage and know your business is accessible. This will increase the likelihood of these people visiting the business.
Using larger fonts and a sans-serif font is also incredibly useful for people with low vision. For blind customers, consider including braille signage that makes navigation more manageable and straightforward.
In addition to using braille in your signage, you should use it in your restrooms, too. People with vision impairments often have problems using restrooms because they do not know where what they need is located. Using braille signs helps with many things, including letting customers with visual impairments know whether a stall is occupied. It is also easier for them to locate the faucets and hand towels.
Also, ensure that the stalls are large enough. They should be at least 34 inches wide, have a grab bar, and have a space of at least 32 inches behind the toilet. They should also have a turning radius of about four feet. Also, consider installing the doors so they swing outwards instead of inwards. Doing so gives them a lot more space to maneuver.
Ensure All Your Printed Material is Accessible
In addition to having written text, you should ensure all your printed material has braille. Using braille on business cards and menus is incredibly helpful for blind people. If you run a restaurant, consider using photographs in your menus. These will help customers who are deaf or mute indicate what they would like to order easily.
Accessibility is not only about your business premises and location, as it is also about ensuring your website is accessible too. A website is a critical marketing asset for many businesses, so it should aid and not hinder good customer experiences.
Hiring a good web developer who can make the website accessible is critical. Once they finish building it, you can use several tools to test it for accessibility. Since accessibility is harder to add after the fact, it is better to let the developer build the website with it in mind instead of trying to add it later. That said, you can still test older websites and add accessibility features if the website is not accessible.
Many businesses use TVs in waiting areas. If you have TVs like this, consider turning closed captioning on. Doing so will allow customers who are deaf or hard-of-hearing to follow what is on the TV.
Video marketing has also become very popular in recent years. If your business uses video marketing, turn on closed captioning and a transcript for your customers. Many video hosting websites make it easy to do this, so taking advantage of this feature is much easier.
Many people with disabilities do not like using online accessibility services because they often do not have all the information. For this reason, in addition to providing complete information, provide additional formats of this information. For blind people, you could provide an audio format for the information.
It is also best to provide alternative ways of reaching the business. Some people cannot contact businesses because they are unable to submit forms. Providing an alternative way to reach the business would be incredibly helpful for these people.
Many businesses do not consider how light impacts different customers. Some may find it hard to read written information, while others might need help navigating the business. Ambient lighting is a huge culprit because many businesses use it to create a casual environment. They need to realize they are making things more complicated for their customers and employees when they do this. Depending on your employees’ and customers’ needs, you can use different tools to calculate how much light your building needs.
Every business should endeavor to be accessible to as many customers as possible. Doing so will increase the number of customers who visit and complete purchases, and it is also one of the best ways to build an inclusive society. Making a business more accessible takes some planning and investment, but it will be worth it once everything is done.