Accessibility Now: How to Ensure Your Business Caters for Guests in Wheelchairs

Business Blog

Most people who don't have accessibility issues would be surprised to discover how difficult it can be for wheelchair users to get around. Even in modern society, which feels quite progressive and open, there are often problems — and even venues and businesses which mark themselves out as 'wheelchair accessible' aren't always. Twitter is full of stories from wheelchair users who've been told that a business is accessible only to arrive and see steps leading to the entrance. For the comfort and convenience of your wheelchair-using guests, you'll want to make sure that your business doesn't fall into this category.

Scaling Stairs

If there are stairs anywhere in your business, you'll want to make sure that you have alternatives for guests in wheelchairs. Lifts are one option. Ramps are much easier and cheaper to install, but they can take up a lot of space. One other alternative that's both reasonably priced and space-saving is to install a wheelchair lift on your stairs.

Just ensure that the guest can operate the lift you install by themselves. If they are forced to ask for help, it's not accessible — and can be frustrating and embarrassing for your guest, no matter how keen you and your staff are to assist. That being said, it is always useful to have staff on hand to offer assistance should it be required.

The wheelchair lifts should also be usable in case of emergency, such as during a fire alarm.

Even Access

One mistake many businesses make is to think that wheelchair access begins and ends with stairs. It doesn't. Walk around your business and take conscious notice of whether the entire floor is even. There can sometimes be single steps between different areas of a business, such as separate departments. If this is true of your business, you'll need to install a ramp there — ideally on every step, but if this isn't possible, make sure that the accessible point is very clearly signposted. Also, ensure that all aisles and doorways are wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair.

Use of Facilities

If your business has toilets, you should also have a disabled access stall. If this isn't found along with the other bathrooms, ensure that you make it clear where exactly it is. Leave the bathroom unlocked and ready for use; no other guests are required to ask permission to use the toilet facilities, so forcing your wheelchair-using guests to do so is infantilising and undignified.

Of course, wheelchair access is just one part of disabled access, and you should also make provisions for guests with other impairments. In the end, however, one of the most important things is to be open to feedback. If a guest points out a problem to you, take it seriously and don't be frustrated. Dealing with the issue is important — and if it's fixed before their next visit, it will likely save you a valuable customer.


27 July 2018

Pitching my business

I have a pretty successful local startup but I know that I could do even better if I expanded my business to a larger market. Unfortunately no matter how protiable a local small business is, no bank will lend me enough money for an international expansion. That's why I am preparing to pitch my business to equity investors and potential joint venture partners. Having a strong pitch will help maximise my chances of success. My blog has some of my work on improving my pitch and should be useful to anyone who is looking to pitch their business to investors.