How Accessible Is Your Business?
By Business Desk
Thursday, April 13, 2017.
As a Black business owner there are plenty of questions that you must ask your business. Is it successful? Can it improve? Can I do anything to help the productivity of my staff? What can I do to take the business to the next level?
One of the questions that Black business owners miss out on, a lot, is one of the most critical questions that a business must ask. Can my business be accessed and enjoyed by anyone, no matter what? A lot of business owners avoid this question because more often than not, the answer is an uncomfortable no. If you avoid the question, it doesn't exist - right? Wrong. People with accessibility issues do exist and they likely want to do business with you - so give them the chance to do so.
Try this on for size - why don't more restaurants and fast food places offer menus in braille? Do blind people not like to eat good food? This is a frustrating trend in eateries and it took a 15 year old kid from Mandeville to notice it and actually do something. Rather than have a waiter, or a friend explain the menu to the visually impaired, this kid simply made braille menus for restaurants. This vastly improves the experience for blind eaters, so they don't have to waste ten minutes having food described to them. Not only is this frustrating, it can make them feel isolated and anxious. The cost of making, say, two braille menus is nothing compared to the satisfaction of a blind customer who for once doesn't need to have a menu described to them. It is a win all around and it shouldn't take a 15 year old kid to realize it.
If you are a restaurant owner, offering a menu in braille does one massive thing for you - it makes your business truly cater for all. Everyone on the planet must know that some people have trouble hearing, some have trouble speaking, some have trouble moving and offers have difficulty in seeing - so what, is your business lying if it says it caters for all when it doesn't? Can your restaurant cater for all if it isn't offering braille menus? It simply isn't serving blind customers well if it doesn't. If your business can do one thing, and that’s offer an option - it is doing more than most other businesses.
There are already enough problems in the world that can affect your business, so why cause one more. A lack of accessibility could not only hamper the customers trying to spend money with your business, but it could also be a cause of discrimination.
Offering menus is one thing, but what about actual accessibility. If your business is in a good area, it is going to encounter a wide range of customers thanks to its location. What would your business do if a man with crutches can’t get into the store? What would it do if a child in a wheelchair isn’t able to access the business? Those are two customers who thanks to their experience might not shop with you ever again simply for the sake of convenience. Everyone, no matter if they are able bodied or not can negotiate a ramp - so remove the stairs and get a ramp installed. This means that customers aren’t being turned away by the environment of your storefront.
Having a ramp conquers many accessibility issues, but it might not be good enough. Are the aisles in your store wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair? If they are not, get this changed. It’s great if someone can access your business, it’s not great if they cannot shop when inside. If you can’t renovate your business right now to meet needs, find other ways to help your customer shop - offer personal shopper services and find ways to help them out. Always keep on eye on making your business more accessible in the future though. Speaking about renovation, it is easier than ever to make your business much more accessible thanks to the types of products out there from platform lifts from www.terrylifts.co.uk/lifts/platform-stairlifts to ramps and other products - there are more affordable accessibility options than ever before. Your business can benefit by making a more accessible store.
It isn’t just the needs of your customers that need to be considered. Your employees come in all shapes, sizes, creeds, races and abilities. There is no excuse for not catering for all here. Every employee deserves to have their needs met so they can be a productive worker for your company. Having wide office aisles, lifts, ramps and wheelchair desks as well as adjustable desks and seating is the best way to do this. Employing an anti-discrimination company policy is always wise and it isn’t just the layout of the office that can discriminate, it can be the words and actions of you and your staff. The behavior of you and your staff needs to be taken into account with any conversation regarding accessibility.
There have been cases where people with missing digits have been laughed at by cashiers and workers, or workers are clearly uncomfortable when dealing with disabled customers. This is obviously unacceptable. Solid company policy and inclusion training can do a lot to counter this behaviour and every customer deserves to be treated in the same manner. That is with a heavy dose of respect. Creating an inclusive world within your business for your customers and staff is a great way to succeed in creating an accessible and friendly business that works. You will be creating your own problems if you don’t do this.
It’s worth asking then, how accessible is your business? Do you have ways in which disabled patrons, clients and employees can access the building? If not - why not? Zach Anner suffers from cerebral palsy, and it took him the best part of a day to travel through New York to get a bagel - why should it be so hard to shop and go to work? Do your bit to make the world a little better for everyone.