You direct a lot of your business resources to the outputs of your enterprise–product and service development, marketing, and management. What often slips through the cracks is ensuring that all potential customers and clients can access you. Keeping your eyes on the physical needs of your customers requires not just that you watch those who come in but also that you anticipate the things that might keep them from coming in the first place. Here are five simple things you can do to improve accessibility for your business.
The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) and local regulations dictate how many handicapped spaces you designate in your parking lot. A certain number of wide spaces for vans will also be required. Generally speaking, customers who don’t need those spaces don’t use them, but they can only park in the correct place if those spaces are properly marked. By the same token, handicapped clientele must be able to position their vehicles correctly to ensure that spaces are used efficiently. The key to this is good striping. Chipped or faded paint will make it difficult for all visitors to determine where to park, so check with a firm providing parking lot striping in Fort Worth TX to get a fresh coat periodically.
For customers who may use a cane, crutches, or wheelchair, the toughest part of their visit may be simply opening the door. Doors must be easy to operate with one hand, particularly when that hand may be arthritic or have missing fingers. Traditional round doorknobs can be very difficult to operate for these customers, and codes typically require a lever-type knob anyway. Check all doors–the front entrance, restrooms, dressing rooms, offices, and all other spaces–to make sure not just that knobs are compliant but also that they operate smoothly without sticking.
A cozy layout creates an inviting appearance in a store or shop. The merchandise looks better without wide open spaces between racks and shelves. However, these narrow aisles can create a real struggle for people in wheelchairs. In other cases, the aisles themselves may be wide enough but the intersections between them do not allow space to turn a wheelchair. Review the space requirements for wheelchairs, or better yet, have someone in a wheelchair visit your facility. Make sure it’s easy for him or her to maneuver through the aisles, down hallways, and through emergency exits without unnecessary effort or risk of injury.
Clear Ice and Snow
On those cold winter mornings, it’s typically a high priority to clear access to the front door so that employees and customers alike can safely come inside. However, we often wait for a contractor to arrive for heavy work on the parking lot. While you can’t shovel the entire lot, it should be a priority to take care of at least the handicapped spaces, including the cross-hatched loading zones. A busy contractor may not get to you for a couple of hours, during which time it could be tough for a handicapped visitor to get inside. Shovel and salt at least those priority areas so that those with the greatest challenges can safely come inside. Be sure to monitor conditions throughout the day and re-treat as necessary, keeping in mind that a surface you can navigate on foot may still be too slick for a wheelchair.
When someone in a wheelchair is trying to move through an area, good lighting is critical. If that person cannot tell where hazards are or determine which surfaces are safe to walk on, he or she will be in danger of falling. If they do leave your business without an incident, they will be unlikely to return. Lighting is a simple thing you can upgrade, and you can do it without wasting energy by illuminating the entire space. LED strips can be installed under shelves and on steps to add light to walking surfaces without ruining the atmosphere in your business.
It’s just good business to be considerate of your customer’s needs, whether it’s required by law or not. These simple steps will make it easier to take care of the people who make it possible to do what you love.