Don’t look now; but the big Christmas shopping season is just around the corner.
And as a smart business owner, you’ve taken time for important things like:
- Stocking up on extra inventory
- Training your sales team (or even hiring extra staff)
- Modifying your hours of operation
Something that gets overlooked, though, is ensuring the accessibility of your business location.
If customers with disabilities (physical and mental and/or developmental) are unable to comfortably enter your building, two things will happen:
- They will be insulted and feel alienated
- They will take their business elsewhere
Both of which are unacceptable.
Install a handicap door operator
The most obvious benefit is to make shopping easier for individuals in wheelchairs or scooters, the elderly or anyone with mobility issues.
There are other, more bottom line-focused advantages to having a commercial locksmith mount a handicap door operator for you:
- Promote a positive brand image: It’s actually jarring and unexpected (not to mention disappointing) when a business doesn’t have handicap door operators in place.
- Boost business efficiency: The easier it is for people to go in-and-out of your location, the more customers you’ll be able to serve (crucially important during the Christmas rush).
- Legal responsibility: The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) mandates that all businesses MUST be fully accessible by 2025.
Widen your door frames
Take a look at the commercial doors and frames you currently have and ask yourself these questions:
- Can someone in a wheelchair easily get in and out?
- Will a scooter get stuck?
If the answer is “no”, then you’ll need to widen them – sooner rather than later.
Not just for people with disabilities: Larger doors make it more comfortable for anyone to enter your business.
And it makes it more convenient when they exit too; especially if they’ve made a substantial purchase and/or are carrying big, bulky items out to their vehicle.
Train your staff
Despite common sense and the best of intentions, some people aren’t sure how to properly interact with the disabled in a business environment.
First and foremost is to treat anyone with a disability with the same respect, dignity and courtesy you would an able-bodied customer.
Then, it’s all about making little adjustments to ensure you’re understood and vice-versa.
- People with physical disabilities: Speak directly to them and ask before offering assistance. Oftentimes, they have their own way of getting around, reaching for products, etc.
- Deaf and/or hard of hearing: Look directly at the customer when speaking to them. Don’t shout to get their attention; wave your hand instead. Repeat yourself as needed.
- Visual disabilities and/or blindness: Identify yourself as you approach. Speak normally and clearly. Offer assistance but do not act unless granted permission. Never leave without saying good-bye.
- Intellectual disabilities: Never assume what a person can or can’t do. Use simple words and short sentences. Share single pieces of information at a time. Speak directly to the customer.
Knowing what to do and what to say can go a long way to making people feel comfortable in your business while improving its accessibility as well.
Other things you can do
Although this blog is focused on the Christmas shopping season, the accessibility improvements you make will ensure your business is welcoming, inclusive and progressive.
Some other changes you can (and perhaps should) make include:
- Making your website accessible: Many people research and shop online. Improve the accessibility of your website with things like adding alternative text to pictures or smart hyperlinking.
- Clear the aisles: During the holidays, you might have boxes or extra inventory in the aisles. That makes it hard for people with disabilities to navigate your store. Always keep walkways free and clear.
- Update your signage: Improve readability for the visually impaired by making font sizes bigger and adding raised Braille text.
- Welcome service pets: By law, all service dogs are allowed inside any business. Become familiar with the various animals (guide dogs, accessibility dogs, seizure alert dogs, hearing dogs, etc.) that may come into your location.
Become accessible for the holidays – and beyond
Did you know that 17% of Toronto-Mississauga residents have some sort of physical disability?
That means for approximately 588,000 people, accessibility is an issue they face every single day.
The team at Aim Lock & Safe can transform your business into a more responsibile corporate citizen and become AODA complaint – just in time for the busy Christmas shopping season.
One of our expert locksmiths will get back to you ASAP to personally discuss your commercial accessibility needs.