Good Access = Good Business

To attract customers who have a disability, small changes can make your business more accessible. Many of these ideas are easy to put into practice; however some will need professional advice so that they are done according to the regulations.

The accompanying checklist will assist you to look at the accessibility of your business. By identifying areas where a small change, with minimal or no expense, can make a big difference to all customers, you can increase your customer base.

Why is Good Access so important?

  • It means there are no physical or social barriers that prevent customers from finding your business, moving around easily and receiving good service.
  • More than half of the people aged 55 years and over have difficulties with mobility, sight and hearing.
  • Not all disabilities are physical. 90% of disabilities are invisible.
  • Disability does not discriminate. A disability can happen to anyone at any time in their life; it can be short-term or lifelong.
  • 1 in 5 people have a disability. That’s 20% of potential customers you could be missing out on.
  • It’s the law. Customers with disabilities should be able to access your goods and services just like any other customer. If they can’t they could make a complaints of discrimination under the Disability Discrimination Act.

Rights and Responsibilities

  • Under the Disability Act (192) it is illegal to discriminate against a person with a disability by:
  • Refusing access to or use of the premises or facilities, or setting special conditions of use.
  • Failing to provide a means of entry to the premises.
  • Requiring a person to leave a premises or stop using facilities without a reason
  • Refusing to provide goods and services or setting special conditions on provision to a person with a disability
  • Providing goods and services in a way that is not accessible to a person with a disability

Making your Business Welcoming

One of the easiest ways to improve access is to change the way you think about customer service for people with disabilities:

  • Undertake disability awareness training with your staff
  • Place your “becoming accessible’ sticker in a vision position
  • Make your customers and potential future customers aware of your accessibility by promoting features which make your business welcoming.

Consider:

  • Access into your business
  • Alternative contact methods such as SMS, email, hearing loop, website, National Relay Service
  • Online shopping service and home delivery service

Guide Dogs and Assistance Animals

People with guide dogs and assistance animals can go into all public areas including restaurants, taxis and hospitals.

The right of a person accompanied by an assistance animal are covered under the Domestic Animals Act 1994 and the Disability Discrimination Act 1992.

Both these acts override the Food Act 1984 which prohibits dogs from entering food premises.

Making your Business Accessible

Entrance

  • The pathway into your business should be:
  • Free from signs, tree branches, furniture and displays
  • Where possible at least 1.8m from the building line or shopfront
  • A non-slip surface
  • Ensure lighting is sufficient to identify trip hazards and keep lighting constant throughout your business space, especially around service counters
  • Paint the entrance to your business in a colour that contrasts with the surroundings
  • Safety markings should be present on glass
  • If the door has a lot of reflective glass, attach safety markings so people do not walk into it

Furniture and Fittings

  • Aisles of 1.2m wide allow room for wheelchairs, walkers and prams to turn*
  • Aisles need to be kept clear at all times, free of protruding displays
  • Floors should be non-slip and clear of trip hazards (keep a visual check)
  • Think about best placement of fittings and fixtures, where they won’t compromise independent movement
  • Consider customers who are blind or have low vision. They will appreciate becoming familiar with your business layout, so you can help by leaving items such as products and displays in an unchanged location
  • The counter should have one low section for people in a wheelchair (830-870mm from floor level)*
  • Customer waiting areas ideally would have chairs available with and without armrests*
  • Tables and desks need to be high enough for a wheelchair to sit comfortably. Chairs may need to be removed and legs repositioned. A modesty panel may hinder knees.
  • EFTPOS machines with features for customers with blindness or low vision will be very well received. Wireless EFTPOS or one with a long cord will enhance privacy for those in a wheelchair
  • Accessible toilets require easy manoeuvrability of a wheelchair, so this means being free of clutter and stored items
  • If you don’t have an accessible toilet, please make sure your staff know the location of the closest one

*Australian Standard (AS1428)

Making your Business Communication Friendly

Communication difficulties can be due to many reasons. Some examples are stroke, brain injury, Parkinson’s disease, vision loss, hard of hearing, cerebral palsy, autism and dementia.

People with communication difficulties may have:

  • No or very little speech
  • Quiet voice
  • Unclear speech
  • Difficulty finding words
  • Difficulty understanding questions
  • Difficulty reading and/or spelling

People with vision loss may find it difficult or impossible to read text or print matter

Other ways that people may communication are through:

  • Pointing, gestures, facial expression
  • Writing
  • Pointing to pictures on a communication board
  • Electronic device

Helping customers with communication difficulties

  • Be patient
  • Speak in a normal clear voice
  • Ask how you can help with communication
  • Ask one question at a time and wait for an answer before speaking again
  • Ask questions that need a “yes”, “no” or short answer
  • Don’t pretend that you have understood
  • Ask the customer to point to or show you what they want
  • Have a communication board, you can obtain one free from your regional communication service National Relay Service is an Australia-wide telephone access service that relays calls

Making Written Information Easy to Read

Written Communication Guidelines:

  • Text size to be at least 14 point
  • Use plain fonts, such as Arial. These are often described as ‘sans serif’ (without small curls or decorative features)
  • Align text to left
  • Line spacing should be at least 1.5
  • Use bold to highlight a word
  • Keep your language simple and direct
  • Use short, simple sentences
  • Use matt or low sheen paper to avoid glare
  • Avoid patterns or pictures in the background of text
  • Make sure there is strong contrast between text and the background (e.g., black and white, not light blue on blue)

Alternative Formats include:

  • Audio
  • Braille
  • Electronic
  • Easy English