For any business to succeed, there are certain things needed in the recipe for success. One of which is making sure that your business is legal. There are plenty of things that you need to be abiding by to make sure that the business is legal, such as keeping copies of records and expenses, offering at least the minimum wage for any employees, as well as making sure that your business abides by any relevant laws. Take for example, an office that you work out of or a physical store that you sell out of. Are you making the environment safe and accessible for people from all walks of life? If someone with a disability was to apply for a role within your business, if they were qualified enough, would you have to make changes to make things accessible for them, for example? If you would have to make changes for employees or customers, then you’re not currently in keeping with the law.
So if you think your business needs a bit of an overhaul to make sure that it is in-keeping with the law, then there are some things that you could do to make changes. It will keep your employees and customers happy, leaving you able to get on with the core of your business and expansion.
- Think about the main entrance to your store or office first of all. If people will have a hard time even getting into the building, then things need to change quite quickly. It may just be that there is a different entrance for customers with disabilities and for people that can’t access it through going up stairs. If so, then it needs to be clearly signposted so they know where to go. If it isn’t obvious, you are going to lose those customers as they won’t be able to get into the store.
- Along similar lines, if there isn’t an alternative access point for them, then you need to make a way for them to be able to get in the building. It could be that you build a ramp to have alongside steps, or fill the steps in to make the whole thing a ramp. It could be installing an easy-access lift, like from Terry Lifts, for example. Just start off this overhaul with the entrance of your office or building and then go from there.
- If you’re hiring an employee, and your office has several floors, is there a way for them to get up the stairs? If not, then it needs to be looked at. It isn’t always going to be practical for to get an internal lift installed. So you need to look at options. If they can only be on one floor, then you need to make sure that you have everything that they would need on that floor. You can’t have bathrooms on the second floor if you don’t have a lift, as an example. So it could mean getting a respite room, and a bathroom put in on the first floor, rather than installing an elevator. Have a look around your office and see what might need to be changed.
- Permanent rooms, such as bathrooms, and storage rooms, should having signage on them that is bright and obvious, as well as in braille. You may not have any employees that are blind, but you could have some that are have a visual impairment like cataracts or reduced vision in one eye, for example. If you have a store, then anyone could walk through the door. It needs to be accessible for them too.
- Are the doors in your office hard to open? Come to think of it, are the handles on them quite high up? If so, this can be hard for someone in a wheelchair to open. In many instances, employers will change the doors or handles, and even add in an accessibility button that can just be pressed and the door opens by itself. The same can be said of a shop door, for example. A bank, for instance, is quite right to have some heavy doors. But they just need an accessibility button that helps them to automatically open when needed. With so much technology at our fingertips, it seems a shame to not be using any of it to help our business premises to grow.
- Are service animals accepted in your place of work or establishment? If you don’t know if the customer has a service animal, then there are two questions that you can ask yourself; does the customer need the animal because of a disability? And second, what work or tasks does the dog know how to do or has been trained to perform? From there, you can assess whether the dog is needed or not. Just make sure that you have clear signage to say that service dogs are welcome in your store, for example.
- All workplaces and premises will need to have an emergency plan. But what happens in the case of people with disabilities? You’re not meant to use elevators in the event of a fire. So what is the plan if there is one? In this instance, you need to think about safe zones, especially if there are multiple floors to your office or building. Where could someone with a wheelchair be left and kept safe, until they are able to be rescued? Fireproof doors could be a consideration, for example. Second of all, you need to think about writing the plan out and educating the rest of your team about the process. If you’re not on duty and there is an emergency, would everyone else know what to do?
Businesses can make things much easier on their employees or customers that have disabilities. It increases your potential customer base, as well as the talent that you can recruit for your workplace. Simply put, it will pay dividends to make your workplace accessible, as well as it making good business sense to do so.