I’ve heard it so many times I want to scream. “I’m sorry, we just can’t afford to …”
This is where we fill in the blank with:
- put in a ramp
- provide captions
- provide a sign language interpreter
- make the bathroom accessible
- add van-accessible parking spaces
- provide descriptive audio
- install a visual alert fire alarm system
- make more room between our store displays for customers using wheelchairs
They can’t afford to do it. Business is tough, the economy is still recovering, donations are down, grant money is unavailable and money is tight. I am a business owner. I understand all that. But as a business owner I also now I have to prioritize. I know there are things a business must do in order to stay in business. My top priorities have always been my clients and my employees. My clients get my full attention along with the best service I can give them. My employees get my respect, my thanks and they get paid before I do.
In order to accomplish all that, I chose to skimp on other things such as my office and my salary. Once I paid my employees and my bills I paid myself, and while I was never wealthy, I was proud and happy.
Like me, these business that are unable to find a way to provide accommodations for customers who have disabilities have expenses. They, too, have employees, utility bills, advertising costs, facility costs, merchandise, insurance, taxes and fees galore. However, if you choose to go into business you must do so understanding all this. This is the cost of doing business.
Part of the cost of doing business is making it possible for your clients and customers to do business with you. You are obligated to do two things in this respect:
- You must comply with federal, state and local laws regulating accessibility.
- You must be welcoming to your client and customer base.
Can you imagine a business owner who stands at his doorway telling 20% of his customers, “You cannot come in here to do business”? Word would get around the community faster than you can say “bankruptcy” and his business would be no more. That’s the same thing that happens when you decide to be inaccessible to people who have disabilities. You are telling 20% of customers or potential customers along with their families and friends they are not welcome.
So yes, the economy is still rebounding and business is tough. This is not the time to reduce the number of people coming through your doors. Prioritize. Being accessible is good business