Each year, we see a steady increase in the total number of individuals living with some disability in Australia.
With this rise in number, the total economic value of these individuals increases as well.
Businesses that are willing to go the extra mile and make some minor yet significant changes to improve accessibility to their retail stores can expect to improve their sales and profitability. Unfortunately, despite all the apparent benefits to retail businesses, and the disabled population, most still fall short of even the very basic accessibility standards.
The Importance of Accessibility
The DDA outlines very clearly the laws against various discriminatory acts. But improving accessibility is ultimately something individual business has to take responsibility for. Providing necessary forms of access, like ensuring that people can enter your building, is a legal requirement. However, additional considerations and equipment that could considerably help differently-abled individuals aren't.
Most common accessibility solutions are easy to implement and affordable for businesses. They can make a significant improvement in the daily lives of differently-abled and people who used wheelchairs. When you make your store accessible to all, it gives them the freedom they need to complete everyday tasks independently. It is crucial from a practical viewpoint, but this independence can also improve their happiness and overall wellbeing.
As mentioned, the good thing about business accessibility best practices is that most (if not all of them) are quite affordable and straightforward to implement. The fact is that these practices will be appreciated by people living without any disability too, as they make for a much more welcoming and comfortable environment.
Steps To Take
Let's take a look at the steps you can take to improve accessibility to your retails store and how it can help increase the profitability of your establishment:
Providing a welcoming entryway to your business is a crucial first step in improving accessibility to your business. Many individuals with a disability will turn away at the very first hurdle. That means you end up missing out on valuable customers and gain a poor reputation for not being easily accessible. This will keep other people that are less mobile away as well.
Look at any obstacles such as narrow doorways/steps and provide suitable solutions. Add a temporary or permanent disability ramp or find a way to make some more space at the entryway. For example, installing wide double doors can make accessibility easier for people using mobility devices. Provide different signs near the entry point to your business.
Once customers see these signs from the curb, it will help promote your various accessibility benefits. Any facilities and amenities that you provide to ease the lives of people with disabilities or the elderly should be displayed clearly. This will tell potential customers that you prioritise accessibility.
While ensuring there is sufficient space around all the floor areas, also identify other obstructions throughout your premises. Use a large wheelchair to go around every space as you may miss things like small steps, narrow corridors, and doorways.
Just like the entryway to your building, consider installing temporary ramps for obstacles and steps. Wherever possible, widen particularly narrow doorways. If you are unable to make significant structural changes, try to re-organise your floor layout to help ensure that wheelchair/mobility device-users can easily access everything they require without having to head to these narrow spaces.
During business hours, consider leaving doors open as large and heavy doors are often significant barriers for wheelchair users or people with mobility issues. These can be a problem for those who are visually impaired too. If you are unable to leave them open, install an automated system or use a lighter material for the doors, if that's practical in your retail setting.
If your establishment has more than a ground floor, consider installing a lift or ramp for those in wheelchairs to access it easily. Making these changes will make the space more welcoming and comfortable for everyone, which will help increase the profitability of your business.
Adapta wheelchair ramps are made from Colorbond steel and are available in a variety of layouts, colours, and configurations. You can call 1800 232 7821 or contact Adapta through this form, and one of our representatives will contact you shortly.