Making your business more accessible to the public
A business should make an effort to make their space accessible to all types of people. It is the right thing to do and will increase the profits of your company because you will have more customers. Those in older buildings may not be subject to laws requiring accessibility, but they are doing themselves, and society as a whole, a great disservice by not voluntarily complying. Here are some things to consider while planning improvements to accessibility at your business.
Floor plan matters
Wider aisles will ensure that wheelchairs can be accommodated. If you have the space, it is best to have aisles wide enough so that another person can pass a wheelchair comfortably. This is a great solution for everyone because neither party has to go through feeling like they are in the way. Wheelchair dimensions can vary a bit depending upon the size of the person. Power assisted wheelchairs have smaller dimensions than those that are manually operated. Floor surfaces should be slip-proof yet smooth enough that those that use walkers can easily navigate throughout your business.
A metal ramp can be installed in hours. If you want a more sturdy solution, you can have a ramp made from poured concrete. Many existing stairways can be made to accommodate a ramp. Metal ramps have a non-skid surface built into them for added safety. Good handrails at an easily accessible height for wheelchair users is essential when building a ramp.
Large-print and braille brochures and menus
It doesn’t take that much effort to print materials in a format that is accessible to people with vision-related disabilities. There is no reason to not have a dozen or so large-print menus and a dozen braille menus if you have a restaurant.
Train employees to be sensitive to the needs of those with disabilities
You can’t always see every disability. Hearing loss, for example, might make it hard to communicate with a customer or client. You and your employees need to be patient. Don’t become frustrated if you need to repeat yourself several times. Some people are not even aware that they have a hearing issue. For those with severe hearing loss or total deafness, you may want to type out what you say on a phone or tablet computer. Reading and writing can be a much better way for deaf people to communicate with you. In today’s world, most people have the ability to text message with their phone.
If you know someone with a disability, ask them privately what could be done to make their experience at your business better. Getting feedback directly from the type of person you are trying to help can make it much easier to get everything right. Sometimes, small changes can go a long way. The paper towel dispenser might be hard to access, or your door may be hard to open. Things like this are easy to fix and can make a dramatic difference in the life of your disabled customers.
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