Businesses tell me, “There’s so much people with disabilities want. They want me to change everything.”
They tell me, “It’s expensive, and it’s hard. How will I get it right?”
Step one: breathe.
Step two: accept change. Yes, people with disabilities want you to change things, but not everything. They want you to make your business accessible to them. They have a right under federal law to have access to your business. Believe it or not this is a good thing that, in the long run, can provide you with more business.
Step three: come up with a plan. You might need the help of a good consultant for this because you probably can’t see all the problem areas yourself. After all where would you begin?
When looking at making your business more accessible you must take into consideration the needs of people with a variety of disabilities. These include but are not limited to: people with mobility disabilities; people who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing; people who are blind or visually impaired; people with cognitive disabilities; people with intellectual disabilities; and people with multiple chemical sensitivities.
Wow! That’s a lot to think about. Keep in mind that the changes that make your business more accessible to people with one kind of disability might make things less accessible to people with a different kind of disability. An uncarpeted floor is better for people who use wheelchairs, but the increase in noise is worse for people who are Hard of Hearing and can make it more difficult for people who are blind or visually impaired to find their way
through the business.
Even people who have disabilities don’t always get it all correct. Recently I visited the website of an organization serving people who are blind or visually impaired only to discover that their videos are not captioned for people who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing. We all are at risk of tunnel vision.
There are great resources out there from the Department of Justice, the Department of Labor, your state’s assistive technology demonstration center and the various organizations representing and serving people with disabilities. You can certainly check with them as a means of starting out. But you must start out. Take the first steps. Begin your plan and make your business accessible to more people.