Why Accessibility Is Important For Your Small Business
Accessibility is a word that has been thrown around a lot in the past few years. But what exactly is it, and how does it impact your business?
Making your business accessible means making your services and products available to someone with a disability. This can mean anything from closed captioning promotional videos to having a wheelchair ramp at your store’s physical location.
Below are a few of the reasons that accessibility is so important and some ways you can make your business and marketing materials more accessible.
A Wider Customer Pool
Approximately 10% of the world’s population has a disability, so if you’re not making your business accessible, you’re potentially losing out on a lot of customers. Not only will potential customers not be able to buy your products or hire your service, but it is highly likely that they will go directly to one of your competitor’s more accessible sites or stores. Accessibility is not only the morally right thing to do, it is also a sound financial decision.
Make Your Building Handicap Accessible
When you think of making your business more accessible, your mind probably automatically goes to things like ramps and automatic doors. Those are a few great ways to make a building more accessible, but there are many other small details that you should take into consideration. Here are a few ways to make your building more accessible:
- Ramps. You should make sure that any ramp you install is not too steep for wheelchair users. If you live in an area where it snows, it’s very important to ensure that the ramp is clear of snow and ice before you open your door to customers.
- Automated Doors. If your doors don’t automatically open via a motion sensor, having a button installed to have them open is also a great way to make your doors more accessible.
- Clear Signage. If you have one entrance that is wheelchair accessible and one that is not, make sure that you clearly mark the way to the accessible entrance.
- Clear Pathways. If you have narrow, crowded pathways with random objects sticking out, a wheelchair user won’t be able to navigate through your store. Make sure there’s enough room for the average wheelchair as well as room for someone and a service dog to walk through.
- Offer Braille Menus. If you have a restaurant or cafe, having braille menus available can be extremely helpful when it comes to ensuring blind customers have a sense of autonomy when ordering.
If you’re constructing a new building for your store, you can consider using modular construction, which reduces energy consumption during the process by around 67% and can make the process easier. You can ask about specific construction options that will help your building be more accessible, such as ramps or automatic doors.
Make Your Website Accessible
Website accessibility is something that you may not think about when you’re considering your options to make your business more accessible. However, making sure that your website is readable to people with screen readers or other accessibility add-ons is important. Plus, when you put the effort into your site’s accessibility, it will make your site have an overall better user experience, which helps with your SEO. Considering the fact that SEO is the cause of 1000% or more traffic than social media, making sure that your website has a good user experience is key to helping your business. There are several helpful guides online detailing how to make your website more accessible, so make sure to seek one out to help your website.
Skip the Mood Lighting
While ambient lighting can be a great way to set the mood, it can also make things more difficult for disabled people who have trouble seeing or that develop migraines or other symptoms from straining to see in low light. If you really want to have low-light in your store or restaurant, you can look into having lighting in key areas where people may be trying to read something, such as having small lights at tables so that reading menus is easier. If possible, just try to avoid overly dark lighting — there is a line when ambient lighting makes it difficult to see, so try not to sacrifice customer experience and accessibility for the aesthetic.
Have Table Height Options
If you have high tables, make sure to offer a few tables that are at a more normal height to allow wheelchair users to have a place to dine. This is a very small difference in how you set up your restaurant, but it can mean the difference between someone being able to eat in or not. This doesn’t mean you have to make all of your tables low ones, it just means that you have to give your customers the option to have more accessible seating.
Have Sensitivity Training
There are many biases out there against disabled people, but there’s no room for them in a fully functional modern workplace. That’s why having routine sensitivity training is important when it comes to making your business more accessible. All employees, including the owners, should participate in these training sessions and take them seriously.
Most importantly, you need to take action if you see an employee acting in an ableist way. Depending on the infraction, you can either have your employee do another round of sensitivity training or you can ask them to resign. Remember that the real key to having an accessible workplace or business is to have people working with you that believe accessibility is important — if someone is belittling the need for accessibility or disabled people, they probably are not a good fit for your business.
Accessibility is a big buzzword right now, and it’s about time that it is. Making your business more accessible doesn’t have to be a difficult or costly process. Instead, it’s mainly about making small changes that will enhance all of your customer’s experiences. By providing accessible options you aren’t taking away from your old options, you’re just enhancing them to make it so that your options are available to a wider range of people.
How are you planning on making your business more accessible? Let us know in the comments!
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