Making your business accessible: How to provide for less abled employees and consumers
Every business needs to ensure it is accessible to less-abled people, both customers and employees. Many companies fail to take enough steps in this direction and overlook this important and valuable demographic. This can harm the size of their customer base, prevent them from growing their workforce, and can negatively impact their reputation. Here are some concerns that every business should have, and how they should be addressed to make it a more accessible and equitable company.
If you operate in the transportation sector or offer transport to employees between multiple work sites, then you should have wheelchair-accessible vehicles (WAVs) in your fleet. Without them, you are failing to provide an accessible workplace to less-abled employees and clients. Like with any business vehicle, there are tax incentives and schemes that can help offset the purchase costs.
Choosing used WAVs is a cost-effective way to provide these services to consumers or employees, and you know you are getting a vehicle proven to offer accessibility. Allied Mobility is one of the UK’s leading manufacturers and adapters of wheelchair-accessible vehicles and is a great place to find a used WAV for your business. With their help, you can find a high-quality used WAV that has been fully inspected and is capable of transporting both wheelchair users and able-bodied employees and clients. This makes the vehicle multi-use, giving your business more value for money.
Your business’s properties, whether private or public, office space or retail outlets, should be accessible to people of different physical abilities. This is not as expensive as people often think, and there may be financial support available to you as either grants or tax breaks to fund the improvements. Many of these accessibility improvements will be structural, such as wheelchair ramps at entrances and exits to buildings and disabled bathrooms.
Some small additions or changes will need to be made to provide both access and safety to less-abled workers and consumers. Your business needs to consider people who are less abled when making fire safety plans and providing utilities for people who use wheelchairs. In the event of a fire in one of your buildings, facilities need to be available to support people with mobility challenges and special needs groups. When you employ less-abled people, your fire risk assessments need to take their needs into account and provide solutions to the challenges they will face during an evacuation.
Training and awareness are important parts of supporting both less-abled employees and customers. No matter what sector your business operates in, your workforce must understand the challenges that less-abled people face in the workplace and in public spaces and what they can do to help. This can be incredibly advantageous to your business, and less-abled employees and customers. Different perspectives can provide unique solutions to problems, and identify issues that may not be obvious.
When training staff in fire safety, the procedures for assisting less-abled people should be a part of the programme. Not only do people with mobility issues need to know what to do in the event of a fire, but other employees also need to know how to react to their challenges and assist them during the event. Language is also important. Discussing topics at work should use inclusive language to ensure that no one’s needs or concerns are being excluded from the conversation, especially if it is work-related.
To develop a better understanding of the needs and demands of the less-abled community, your business should conduct outreach to local groups to see what you can do to serve this demographic better. This is especially important if you operate a customer-facing business with a public consumer base. Not only is this an effective public relations measure, but it also creates a bridge between your business and a chronically underserved demographic within our wider community.
This not only encourages the less-abled community to utilise your business, but it also creates a pipeline for your hiring processes and makes your company more visible to this demographic that is often highly qualified yet underemployed. The benefits outreach can bring to your business make it worthwhile, not only can you increase sales and profits, but you can also hire highly qualified staff for roles throughout your company.
By taking steps to address deficiencies in your business’s infrastructure, and practices, you can make your company a more accessible and equitable place to work. You will also encourage more business from the local community, from both the able-bodied and the less-able. Not only do you have a responsibility to take a closer look at your business and how it needs to adapt to service the less-abled, but it is also an opportunity to gain new customers and grow your workforce with skilled, qualified, and experienced staff members.