Is your business accessible for functionally diverse customers?

September 09, 2021
Is your business accessible for functionally diverse customers?

Accessibility is more than automatic doors, removable chairs and ramps. There are a variety of elements that make a business more accessible. Consumers, including those who are functionally diverse (physical, cognitive or psychological conditions) want and need to acquire products or services. However, when a business makes participating in their offers difficult, they will find more accessible alternatives.

Making your business more inclusive helps functionally diverse people participate in the market, brings new clients to your enterprise and positively reinforces your company’s image.

Below are some of the elements that you can incorporate into your business to make it more accessible:

  • Have a counter with a convenient height for wheelchair users so they can make their payments comfortably.
  • Install tactile buttons in the number pads on payment terminals. This will help the visually impaired to insert their PIN number.
  • Keep your location’s aisles and hallways clear, comfortable and sufficiently wide for people who use mobility aids.
  • Respect the importance and purpose of service animals. Remember that they are not pets, but aids trained to accomplish specific tasks for their owner’s wellbeing.
  • Provide printed material in braille (menus, business cards, flyers, etc.) Also, make sure your establishment’s signs have braille writing to identify important spaces.
  • Require your customer service employees to always carry a pencil and paper to communicate with and exchange notes with clients that do not communicate verbally.
  • In your webpage, add alternative text to images so that text-to-speech software used by the visually impaired can describe the contents of the image. It is also helpful to create large user interfaces and easily clickable links. For example, instead of typing “Click here to access our offers,” use “Click here to access our offers.” This helps customers easily navigate the site without their assistive technology.

Not everyone has had the opportunity to meet a functionally diverse person, therefore it is important to educate your employees on how to best serve them. Some important points to remember are:

  • Do not assume their abilities: ask them if they need help and how they would like to be assisted before taking action.
  • Talk to functionally diverse people directly, not through their companion, unless they explicitly indicate otherwise.
  • When helping a visually impaired person to traverse the location, offer them your arm and wait for them to accept it. Also, let them know when you are leaving their side.

Every business owner has the power to design and implement a product and/or service aimed at functionally diverse people. For example, with their “Cinema for all” initiative, Caribbean Cinemas provides people with autism a safe and specialized environment where they can enjoy movies. The special screening rooms offer attenuated sound and more lighting to minimize sensory overload. Plus, younger kids can express themselves during the movie.

Another example is Starbucks, which has become a popular meeting place for the deaf community. Starbucks promotes an inclusive environment by employing baristas who know sign language and having locations designed for deaf people. Also, Starbucks actively hires deaf and partially deaf employees.

Designing your business to be accessible for everyone is a good example of social commitment; and even contributes to higher sales by exposing your brand to a new market ready to participate in your offer.

This article is for informational purposes and does not represent an endorsement or a guarantee of accuracy. Popular Inc., as well as its affiliates, subsidiaries or related companies, are not and will not be liable for any special damages, direct or indirect, resulting from the information contained in this article. If you require any type of advice, you should always request it from a competent professional of your choosing.