Best Practices and up to the minute news on Customer Experience Management and Service Excellence

Disabled People Deserve More Than the Bare Minimum from Your Business

Disabled people deserve more from business

An open letter from a woman living with a disability and the retail chain she values most.

The world is not built for disabled people, and I’m reminded of this fact nearly every time I leave the house. Whether I’m going to the grocery store, a shopping center, or the mall, there is almost never enough accessible parking.

There are always one or two spots, enough to meet the legal ADA requirement, but they’re almost always full. On days where I don’t have the patience to drive around the parking lot in circles waiting for a spot to open up, I’ll just leave without getting what I came there for. It’s a lose-lose for both me and the business; I’m frustrated, and the business has lost a customer for the day.

Beyond the ethical and moral importance of treating disabled people with respect, making your business accessible for disabled people can increase your profits; according to the National Center for Business Journalism, “The U.S. Department of Labor found that Americans with disabilities have $175 billion in discretionary spending.”

If disabled people cannot park outside of your establishment, you will lose out on their business. If we can’t navigate your business because the aisles are too narrow or pathways for mobility aids are blocked, we’ll never make it to the register.

If stairs are required to access the store and there are no elevators or ramps, we’ll find another place to shop. If you don’t have accessibility information about your business online (i.e. info about parking, stairs, steps, elevators, etc.), we may not waste our time trying to make it inside a building that isn’t made for us.

Learn a lesson from Target

There is a business, however, at which I have never encountered this problem – Target.

Every Target in my area has dozens of accessible spots at every entrance. Every time I drive in, I’m struck with the thought, “this is glorious.”

It may sound silly but knowing that I am guaranteed a place where I can easily park and unload my mobility equipment relieves a tremendous amount of stress off my shoulders. I am never worried about making it inside the door, and I truly feel like this is a store that not just tolerates disabled people but welcomes them with open arms.

Target’s website features an entire section on their dedication to accessibility in their stores and online. They now offer clothing brands for adults and children specially designed with accessibility in mind and are actively updating their stores to be more accessible to people with disabilities.

What’s interesting is Target as a business has previously encountered losses for not accommodating people with disabilities. In 2011, the retail corporation settled an EEOC disability discrimination suit for $160,000 – and $6 million in a class-action lawsuit in 2008 to the National Federation of the Blind.

Do the right thing and customers will respond

I’m living proof that a company can bounce back in the public eye if they take measures to accommodate all customers.

I don’t even live close to a Target. But I often go out of my way to choose this store over the others in my area. I’ll spend my money on a company that goes out of its way to earn my business, one that has proven that accessibility is not just an afterthought considered only to meet legal obligations.

Prioritizing accessibility is mutually beneficial for both customers and business owners; disabled people are able to move through the world more easily and with dignity, and owners are able to profit off a large, often ignored section of the population.

You never know who may end up your most loyal and repeat customer.