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How To Start To Improve Accessibility

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It can sometimes be difficult to know where to start when wanting to improve the accessibility of your business. How do you prioritise what the most important facilities or measures to concentrate on to be more inclusive for all your customers? Is it: The entrance to your venue; Layout of the inside of your venue; Menus or customer guides; Accessible toilets?? There are so many requirements that individual customers might have, so understandably, it might feel a little overwhelming thinking of everything that needs to be done and knowing where best to commence.

A great place to start is by mapping out your customer journey. This will help you visualise all the different touch points you have with your customers in both a digital and physical environment. Only through understanding how your customers interact with your organisation, will you be able to begin to benchmark and improve on the accessibility and customer experience.

The next, and most important aspect in mapping the accessibility of your business, is to speak to your customers. Ask how they feel about your accessibility. Listen to their thoughts and feedback, then evaluate it all and start to develop a plan of how you will be more accessible. It doesn’t always have to be big changes when making improvements, sometimes the smallest differences can make the biggest difference.

Once you have created your action plan or improvement list, then you are ready to make the changes that your budget allows for, even if that means improving one item at a time. If you still feel your budget doesn’t allow you to make any changes then examine your digital presence in more detail. How could you make this more accessible? That first impression that you make is critical and is most likely to be a digital one so this is can be a great place to start introducing changes. This can often be done for little or no cost as you make your marketing content, venue information and website as accessible as your resources allow for.

Image of tables in a restaurant

Although digital improvements can be one of the most cost-effective ways of enhancing your accessibility and customer experience, don’t be afraid of exploring the physical changes too. Physical adaptions are likely to be more challenging in terms of either existing building design or prohibitive costs, but this does not mean you should overlook these potential adjustments.  An example of a small step being found at the main entrance to your venue should not be viewed as an insurmountable barrier.

So how might this accessibility barrier be overcome for customers with a mobility impairment? There are a variety of ways to consider, however, it’s sometimes the simplest improvements that be the most impactful. A portable ramp is a flexible and low-cost option for allowing you to provide access over that step without taking on the higher cost and design challenges that a permanent physical change might encounter.

Therefore, when starting to improve the accessibility of your business think about your customers visiting you. What barriers do they struggle with? Map out your current customer journey, speak to your customers and create an action plan. Taking that first small step in the right direction cannot just be beneficial to your customers, but your businesses future too.

Follow Claire D'All:

I graduated from the University of Dundee in 2016 with a Bachelor of Science Honours degree in Applied Computing. During my studies the field that I had a great interest in was web development however since graduating I have also become very interested in accessibility. I was born with Congenital Muscular Dystrophy and since the age of 3 I have used a wheelchair 24/7. Due to my disability I have always come across problems regarding accessibility, which is why it’s such a passion for me.

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