What steps is your business taking to become more accessible? Have you considered the needs of British Columbia’s disabled population? Nearly 10 per cent of our province’s population identifies as having a disability. These individuals commonly don’t receive the same care and service as everyone else in our province.
We all have a role to play in addressing this imbalance. As a small business owner, there are plenty of small yet impactful changes you can make to become a more accessible business. The benefits of doing so are clear. When you create a more accessible business, you open yourself up to all British Columbians. Here are five ways you can create a more accessible business. Many of them won’t cost you much to implement.
It Starts with Employee Training
Let’s start with a simple way to improve that doesn’t cost anything. Provide disability awareness training to your team, teaching them how to interact respectfully and effectively with customers who have disabilities. No customer should be made to feel like their presence is a burden. Etiquette, effective communication techniques, and assistance protocols will make a huge difference in ensuring a positive customer experience for everyone.
Consider Enhancements to Your Physical Space
No matter what type of business you’re running, if you have a physical space, you can enhance it to meet the needs of people with disabilities. While they’re a great target to strive for, these changes don’t have to be as significant as accessible bathrooms or wheelchair ramps initially. If you have outside seating, offering improved shade is a great place to start. Many people have issues with regulating their temperature in extreme heat. Ensure pathways around your space are clear of obstacles, helping those with vision impairments or wheelchair users to navigate freely.
Design an Accessible Website
As ecommerce continues to grow, the need for companies to consider website accessibility becomes ever more critical. Website accessibility means your website, tools, and technologies are designed to be used by people with disabilities. It encompasses everything from the font you use to images, navigation, and so much more. An accessible website has a simplified design that eliminates barriers that can block a user’s access. The Web Accessibility Initiative is the best place to start for information on creating an accessible website.
Offer Flexibility in Your Services
Becoming more accessible can also mean providing different ways for your clients and customers to interact with your services. During COVID, many businesses embraced this idea, pivoting to provide curbside pickup or delivery options to keep their customers safe. Many potential customers may have difficulty navigating your physical store, so continuing to offer these options will empower them to access your products in a manner that’s convenient for them.
Apply for the Workplace Accessibility Grant
Did you know funding is available to help you create an accessible workplace? The Workplace Accessibility Grants is a reimbursement grant of $2,500 that can be used for projects that improve workplace accessibility, while addressing and removing barriers for people with disabilities. The grant is available to BC-based businesses with fewer than 50 employees. Visit our dedicated Workplace Accessibility Grant information hub to learn more.