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How to make your small business more accessible

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When you’re just starting up, it can feel like there are a million things to set up, organize and consider. Every customer counts in those first few years, which is why it’s important to make your business as accessible as possible. This is why this post will share four ways you can make your business more accessible. Some will require a little thought, while others may need you to make a small investment.

Getting around the premises

Whether you’re a small shop or a service-based business, it’s likely you’re going to need to see customers face to face. Meaning your premises should be easy to access and move around in.

The first step is how you’re going to get people physically through the door. If your building has entrance steps, it may be worth considering installing metal handrails or a ramp. If space is limited, you could invest in a temporary, foldable ramp that can be placed out as and when is needed instead.

When the customers are inside your premises, you need to ensure aisles and walkways are wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair and other mobility equipment. It’s also important for any business owner to make sure there are no obstacles or hazards in the walkways. This could increase the risk of falls and trips for both those with mobility and visual impairments.

Counters at varying heights

Depending on the type of business you have, you may be offering products and services to a whole range of people of different ages. Being inclusive of everyone in your premises means you should have a variety of counters and tables at different heights to meet everyone’s needs – whether it’s a small child, a senior in a wheelchair, or an adult with an injury.

For those that offer services to their clients, it may be worth having a booking system. That way, you can ensure the premises is fit for their specific needs (lowered tables, wider aisles, stronger visuals, etc.) before they arrive, then re-adjust for the next day of appointments.

Online

Of course, one way to make your business more accessible is to have a website. Here, people can get information about your business or even shop online to make things easier if they struggle to get around.

When creating an inclusive space online, you need to consider adding options for those with visual impairments, dyslexia, and more. For example, having predictive text on search bars can ensure that spelling errors don’t stop a customer from finding what they need. Audio options or larger text for those that struggle with reading from the screen or filtering options will help those with color blindness and dyslexia. These sorts of extras can be developed by a web team or through plugins.

Training

Being inclusive means respecting customers and helping them maintain their dignity. No customer should have to struggle in your premises. Helping staff to develop the skills they need to be helpful and welcoming to all is an integral part of accessibility. You should make sure that all staff know how to deploy the temporary ramp, how to identify someone struggling, etc. Not all impairments and disabilities are visible, which is why staff need to have patience and give customers the time and support they need.

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