Accessibility – is everyone welcome?

Laws were passed in late 2004 which dictated that all businesses must now accommodate for those with disabilities. For those in existing older buildings concessions are made depending on the limitations of unavoidable features of the property’s architecture – but on the whole, new buildings must always be designed with accessibility in mind – and those occupying properties which can be modified or altered should do so in order to make them disabled-friendly. Although the law came into force over a decade ago, many smaller businesses find themselves without the means or professional support to alter their premises to ensure that they are accessible. Even more may have not considered their responsibility in law – and the financial consequences of excluding around 20% of the population from their business.

You are required by law to accommodate those with physical disabilities

The 2004 bill was created to make daily life easier for thousands of disabled people in the UK, by eliminating unnecessary obstructions and modifications in business properties which prevented them from entering, accessing or moving around the building in question. Although many businesses believed this to simply mean investing in a ramp or rail, poor lighting, heavy doors, unreasonable numbers of steps and colour contrasts are also covered by the bill. Modifications must be made if they can – and this includes more expensive changes such as installing lifts where necessary.

You could be excluding a large portion of your target market

It’s estimated that 19% of the UK population are disabled – but many more may struggle with mobility without being registered. This means that if you are not considering accessibility, you may be making it as difficult as possible for your customers to spend their money with you. Whilst the obvious argument for investing in accessibility modifications is rightly moral and legal, it’s also important to consider the potentially positive impact on your sales making sometimes small changes could have.

Accessibility is good for business

On the whole, you may find that any changes you make in order to achieve better accessibility has a positive effect overall on your company. Often consumers like to feel they have space to move around when browsing or entering business premises – and all too often in the past this natural movement was hindered by ‘roadblocks’ – flights of stairs, narrow aisles, contracted doorways. Creating more open space in your business for those who have disabilities is likely to also benefit those who don’t – as they find their experience with you to be more enjoyable and much easier.