Why Is Accessibility Important?

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There can be many answers to the question this week for continuing our accessibility series, depending on an individual’s own unique requirements. OOVIRT believe in providing equal opportunities and making everyone feel included. A sequence of accessibility scenarios is described below that highlight how each part of a customer’s journey impact a person going out to visit a venue.

When deciding to visit a venue, for a lot of people it’s just a case of getting ready, jumping in the car, or another form of transport, and setting off to the destination. However, for others living with any form of disability or enhanced access requirement, it’s not that simple. They need to know the venue is suitable for all their potential needs to feel confident about going. For anyone with social anxiety or autism, even the idea of going to a new venue can create enhanced stress or worse still, put the person off wanting to go out at all. You need to make your potential visitors feel comfortable about your venue before they visit to give them the confidence to go to you.

Once you have convinced a person to come to your destination, depending on the chosen method of transport, a visitor could be arriving from a number of different points. The selected transfer route is all part of the experience of someone coming to your destination and if not clearly mapped out can lead to a number of issues and frustration or disappointment. How far is the parking or station from your venue? Are there any barriers that will prevent navigating certain routes? Consider how someone with a visual impairment will be able to make the journey from the different points and identify any route markers. Try to make the journey as painless as possible to avoid putting off visitors or creating a negative impression before the person even arrives at your place.

Man With White Cane Walking Across The Road

When a customer arrives, the entrance to your building is a critical component of your venue. It says a lot about what your business is and represents. Be that the signage you display, the lighting or decoration dressing your frontage or the physical path inside your space. These items create a certain feeling for someone about your brand. A small step, free standing display or large threshold strip can make a huge impact on someone accessing your venue, particularly if using a heavy wheelchair, but these are all things that can be overcome with a little thought and good communication. Making your space look pretty but forgetting to think how it affects ‘all’ your customers’ experience means you can instantly be putting off a huge potential portion of your market.

Once you have enabled a customer to move inside your venue, the impression made by the design and layout of internal space is the next pivotal part. This is often overlooked without any thought given to how it impacts those with different access requirements. The colours, sounds and arrangement of furniture and displays not only stimulate a visitor’s senses but create an emotional response to how they interact with your environment. You want your customers to feel happy about being with you, this will encourage them to not only want to return but to share positive stories about their visit with their friends (the best marketing there is!). A person with a mobility impairment, a pregnant lady or a family with young children will all have different ways of needing to move through your venue. Adopting an internal design approach that caters for all the different access needs will give all your visitors the best possible experience and help avoid negative feedback.

Lastly, and most importantly, are the people that welcome, serve and support customers at your venue. Staff are usually the greatest cost to any business but are often overlooked as the most important asset. Without the right investment in the training and development of your team then all the time, money and effort invested into your business can quickly be wasted. There are often restrictions on the physical measures that be introduced to improve the accessibility of a venue but the right type of customer service can help overcome these challenges. Inclusive training that allows staff to understand the different access needs of customers means they can confidently respond to queries and support guests to help them have the best possible time whilst with you.

If you design an experience that everyone can enjoy then not only to you maximise your customer base, you create an excellent impression about your destination or venue. Something that will have people talking about your business for all the right reasons. By speaking to all your potential customers, listening to their feedback and suggestions, you can easily develop a strategy to achieve these goals. Accessibility is not just important to your customers, it be can the differentiator to having a successful destination of venue.

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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