Millions of people around the world are physically, mentally, and emotionally disabled. Your business may not be accommodating them in the best way you know. If you are not sure how to be more inclusive of this sector of the population, attend seminars and training where these topics are being discussed. You may be surprised to know that the simple fact of not having a physical ramp near the entrance to your store is pushing customers away.
Many forms of disabilities affect mobility, vision, and hearing. The number will increase as the population ages, and your target market grows. But you shouldn’t also discriminate against emotionally and mentally incapacitated customers, those who need an emotional support animal to shop in your store. Make sure that your store is as welcoming to them as to healthy customers.
Ramps, Signs, and Addresses
Without a dedicated parking space for the disabled, how do you suppose they can visit your store? Should they just wheelchair their way to you? Should they take the bus and put themselves at risk? Most physically disabled people take a cab to get to and from where they need to be. Some of them ask their loved ones to drive for them from time to time. If your store has no space for them, they might not want to visit it anymore. If it’s becoming a hassle for them and their loved ones to visit your store, then chances are they might just forget about it altogether.
Another thing you need to do is put an embossed address stone in front of your shop. Those who have vision problems may need to touch the address stone to figure out if they are in the right place. Make sure to have the numbers embossed to make it easier for customers with eyesight problems.
Don’t forget to put up the International Symbol of Accessibility at the entrance of your store. This way, even foreign customers will understand that they are welcome to your store. The signs in the parking lot, outside the store, and inside it are proof that you are thinking about your customers.
Make sure that service animals are allowed in your store. They play a big role in the lives of people with disabilities. These are well-trained animals that know how to move around aisles. Make sure that your customers know they can bring their service animals with them in the store. Even animals for emotional support should be allowed inside to create a more welcoming environment for customers suffering from anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems.
Layout and Design
The aisles should be wide enough so that wheelchairs can pass through. You should make items accessible, so don’t put the important ones on top of the shelves. At the very least, make sure there is staff roaming around and ready to extend help if needed. Make the counter low enough at the checkout counter so that people sitting on wheelchairs can still see the cashier. Also, don’t put too many items in this area because those will block the customer’s view of the cash register.
Don’t forget to train your employees how to deal with people with disabilities. Don’t just assume that they know how to care for them and provide customer service. Because of their disabilities, these customers might have special needs beyond what the staff is trained for. They should know how to help the customers when they have difficulties in using a product or service owing to their disabilities.
How do you make your business more inclusive? You can employ people with disabilities. As long as they are able to do the tasks assigned to them, it shouldn’t matter if they can’t see, hear, or speak. People with disabilities don’t require special treatment more than what is due to them. They need businesses to open their doors for them not only as customers but also as possible employees. Employing people with disabilities will attract customers who put a premium on inclusivity.
Stop wondering why there aren’t enough customers visiting your store. The truth is that you might be forgetting that there’s a sector of the population that you could be targeting but does not. Refocus your marketing strategies to accommodate people with disabilities who are often left out by companies that tend to focus on healthy individuals alone. While you should not neglect certain groups in your target market, you should also focus on groups many businesses have not accommodated.