When your business reviews, revises and implements better accessibility practices, you’re opening up a great financial opportunity. Accessibility doesn’t have to be complicated with the right support and education. By improving your practices, you are encouraging change, supporting a better future, and promoting inclusivity.
Our Experiences as Disabled People
I am an ambulatory wheelchair user, and I require my wheelchair every time I leave the house. As a disabled person and a wheelchair user, I face many barriers.
Retailers have narrow aisles which are unsuitable for those using mobility aids. One-way systems or designated routes through shops are frequently inaccessible because the disabled community isn’t considered when shops are designed. This increases anxiety and stress for the disabled person that has no choice but to move against the flow. It sends a message to the public that it’s ok not to be inclusive, and it portrays the idea that disabled people are the problem or a burden.
We often hear comments such as ‘we never really get a disabled person here’ or ‘why would I do that when disabled people don’t come to our restaurants?’
This is a prime example of how businesses are missing out on the Purple Pound. The disabled community is unlikely to visit your venue if they can’t find accessibility information on your website or even via the phone. Many employees have never attended disability awareness training to support their disabled customers. This can leave both parties feeling frustrated.
Read more: The Power of the Purple Pound
When I see a shop with steps into it, I hope they have an alternative entrance with a ramp or at least a portable ramp so I can get inside. However, these are rarely advertised, which tells me that they don’t value me as a customer. This means that business ends up on my list of places I can’t go. This list frequently reminds me that the world we are currently living in chooses to exclude millions of disabled people and myself, despite having the ability, in most cases, to find a simple solution.
You likely have an accessible toilet; at least, I hope you do. However, do you have a Changing Places toilet? A quarter of a million people in the UK require a Changing Places toilet. Imagine the numbers and the popularity of your venue if you had one or even two.
Do you have a large print menu or a braille menu? I hope you do because more than 30,000 people in the UK use braille to help them communicate.
These situations happen all the time, and you’re probably unaware of them, but you have a chance to change this. Currently, businesses lose approximately £2 billion a month because they don’t cater to the disabled community.
The disabled community has a spending power of £249 billion per year in the UK, with this in mind can you afford to ignore disabled people?
Asking for support to implement change
Going forward businesses and organisations have a golden opportunity to evaluate their accessibility practices or even implement them. The most dangerous phrase you can use in business is ‘we've always done it like this’. For inclusivity to grow we have a duty to learn and build from lived experiences.
There is no shame in asking for help or being uneducated if you are actively educating yourself and looking for support. AccessAble and their team of Ambassadors is a great place to start.
AccessAble Consultancy is an incredible resource, working with 350+ clients in both public and private sectors. They provide several services such as one-off capital development but most of their partners chose to retain them as their go-to access consultants.
They have helped 100 + local authorities, 100 + universities, 60 + NHS trusts and 100 + private sector businesses.
What makes AccessAble Consultancy different? They have worked with over 1500 groups of disabled people to ensure their access guides capture what disabled people need to know about a venue before they visit. They consider the different perspectives disabled people have from mobility impairments, learning disability, sensory impairment, dementia, mental health and more.
Read more: AccessAble Consultancy’s Services
The services AccessAble offer mean more to those that use them than you could imagine.
AccessAble is knowing that the future will be accessible, it’s knowing that someone cares.
‘AccessAble is the ability to know in advance, whether a building will be accessible for your needs, giving you the choice before you make the journey.’
‘It’s a great community and better confidence in discovering new places!’
‘AccessAble reinforces the facts that accessibility is not a luxury and shouldn’t be treated as one. Accessibility is a human right not a luxury.’
Although I sincerely hope inclusivity is enough of a reason to review or implement new accessibility practices; it makes logical business sense too.
It’s not too late
Why miss out on the Purple Pound? Changes can be made efficiently, especially with the support of disabled people and AccessAble Consultancy.
There’s no need for your business to lose out, for the disabled community to feel excluded. Properly trained staff makes the experience better for the disabled person and the member of staff as they are equipped with the knowledge and resources they need.
Your business could be more profitable, your employees empowered, and inclusivity of all communities will promote a better future. What do you have to lose?
Holly Greader is a 23 year old UK Disability Advocate and Blogger. She lives in Cardiff with her partner James and our their adorable dog Teddy. Holly is disabled and lives with multiple chronic illnesses. She's also an ambulatory wheelchair user.
Read more from Holly on her blog: https://theworldinmywords.com/