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4 Simple Ways to Ensure Your Business is Accessible to Customers with Disabilities

Customers with Disabilities

Guests with disabilities will spend more on a business that goes above the legal requirements.

One in five people in the United States has a disability. As of 2015, that number reached over 50 million people, and that number continues to rise. As our population continues to age rapidly, businesses may face an increasing number of customers living with age-related disabilities, as 72% of people over the age of 80 are living with a disability.

While your business may be legally compliant with the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act, it may not necessarily be a comfortable and friendly space for your customers with disabilities. Here are four ways to ensure an improved experience for disabled customers:

Automatic doors or doors with push-button entry

On average, the cost to install an automatic door is around $2,000, but this installation can be worth its weight in gold to a disabled customer. Navigating through heavy doors with a wheelchair or other mobility aid can be difficult, if not impossible; a door that opens for you allows everyone to get inside your establishment with ease and comfort.

Widen your aisles or reconfigure your floor space

If your business has aisles, make sure they are wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair doing a three-point turn. This ensures that the person making it through the aisle will not have a tight squeeze but can navigate through the aisle comfortably. It eliminates the discomfort of having multiple people in the aisle at once, needing to awkwardly shift around a person with a mobility aid. Also ensure that there is a wide-open space around corners. Customers utilizing electronic shopping carts have a very wide turning range, and it’s easy to clip corners if there isn’t enough designated space.

Adequate accessible parking

It is important to include more than just the bare minimum number of parking spaces; consider increasing your ratio of accessible to non-accessible spots in your lot. Be sure that your employees are vigilant about keeping accessible spots free of any obstacles, like shopping carts or other cars parked over the striped lines (these spaces are necessary for rolling out ramps from accessible vehicles).

Truly accessible bathrooms

Although much of this is required by the ADA, in my experience, it’s often overlooked. Avoid feminine hygiene vending machines with knobs or that require the use of other fine motor skills. Soap dispensers should be operable with only one hand for ease of use. Make sure that mirrors, trashcans, soap dispensers, and paper towel dispensers are all easily usable from a seated position. Consider removing air-dryers, as many people with sensory disabilities find the loud noise extremely unpleasant.

These investments have the potential to pay for themselves by bringing in more of the disabled community to your business- a community that, according to the Department of Labor, boasts an incredible $175 billion in spending power. These suggestions require relatively minor changes but will go a tremendous distance in improving the customer experience for patrons with disabilities.