An accessible business is one that is equally open to all potential customers, including the approximately 375,000 people in Northern Ireland who have a disability.
Every business has a legal duty to take reasonable steps to ensure that disabled people can access their services but there are many other reasons why you should stop and consider how accessible your business currently is. These include:
- Enabling customers of all ages and abilities to access your services could widen your customer base;
- A disabled customer can often quickly become a loyal customer who may also bring their friends and family, meaning repeat business for you; and
- We are all getting older, the market and need for accessible services and products will continue to grow in the future.
The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland has developed the "Every Customer Counts" initiative to support Northern Ireland traders seeking to promote accessible services. Their goal is to encourage businessmen and women to take a moment to use their free self-assessment tool and consider how open their services currently are to disabled people.
THREE STEPS TO SUCCESS:
Use their inclusive customer service statement & policy to tell your customers about the steps you have taken to make every customer count.
Download their self-audit tool to identify any potential service gaps or possible areas for improvement.
The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland is committed to providing additional support to anyone seeking to make adjustments to their current arrangements.
Read their good practice guides for ideas and handy tips on how to improve your service:
Use their action plan template to prioritise, implement and evaluate any changes you decide to make
- Read their online guide to making adjustments to your premises
- See their list of auxiliary aids and services which you may find useful
- Watch their good practice videos and disability etiquette videos
You can also contact The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland to discuss your plans and get additional support and guidance.
Sign up to their 'every customer counts' commitment:
Sign up to their 'Every Customer Counts' commitment and show your customers that your business is open to everyone.
Turn a small investment into a big profit:
Every organisation has duties under the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) to make reasonable adjustments. These are the actions you should take to make your services more accessible to disabled people, relative to the size and circumstance of your business. These include:
- any provision, criterion or practice (policy);
- physical feature of premises (building); and
- provision of auxiliary aids (access supports).
Reasonable adjustments should aim to provide equality in service provision for everyone, with the same level of access, dignity and choice.
Small changes can have big benefits
Small changes to the way you work, how you present information and your premises can have a big impact on your customer numbers. Making sure that your staff can provide great customer service to disabled people can often make the biggest difference of all. Well trained staff who are confident serving disabled people could also boost your sales.
Remember it all adds up...
- 20% of people in NI have a disability (includes hearing, visual and cognitive impairments as well as with physical disabilities)
- 40% of households in NI include a disabled resident
- £80 billion pounds is spent by disabled customers in the UK each year
- Download their fact sheet - 'Why Access Means Business'