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Guide on making small businesses accessible - It's not just about physical changes.

Studies have shown that once people with disabilities find a business where they can shop or avail of services in an accessible way, they become repeat customers. It therefore makes sense that business owners should review how people access their goods and use their services and put procedures in place to ensure the smooth running of their business.

For example, some existing business policies and procedures could be unintentionally making it difficult for customers with disabilities to access goods and services. Making some minor modifications to these policies and procedures may ensure ease of access for people with disabilities. A simple example of this may include changing a policy or procedure which permits people with disabilities to have a companion with them in a changing room to assist in changing clothes when the current policy only allows one person at a time in a changing room.

Another example may include a business’s “no pets” policy. A policy such as this could exclude people with disabilities who use service animals, as staff may not allow these people onto the premises. Ensuring that a clear policy permitting service animals is in place will ensure that staff are aware of their obligation to allow access to customers using service animals thus facilitating better access to goods and services.

Communicating with customers is also an essential part of doing business, however many business owners and employees are not sure how to deal with customers who may be blind or have poor vision, those who are deaf or hard of hearing, or those who have speech disabilities. Taking part in a disability awareness training programme will prepare business owners and their staff to effectively interact with people with disabilities.

In summary, the most efficient way a business can ensure people with disabilities can access its goods and use its services is to evaluate the existing accessibility of the business, modify policies and procedures as necessary and ensure that staff receive disability awareness training.

If you would like to learn more about making a small business more accessible and disability awareness training, do not hesitate to contact one of our team on 01-4151285 or e-mail [email protected]