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Voices Blog

Five Ways to Create a Barrier-Free Storefront

By: Emma Lavery

Take a walk around your business. What do you see?

Are there steps leading you through the front door, a ramp? Or both?

Does the restroom in your business have a door that swings out or in?

What does the checkout area look like? Is the debit machine fixed or on a flexible cord?

As a business owner, you want your physical space to be accessible to every customer possible to increase sales and overall profit. However, depending on your answers to our questions, your physical space may unintentionally prevent customers with disabilities from entering your shop and buying your products.

1 in 5 Canadians live with a disability and together have a spending power of over 25 billion dollars. Ensuring your business is accessible for all people not only makes economic sense, as you’re able to tap into a vast market, but more importantly, doing so shows you’re doing your part to make Ontario inclusive for everyone.

At SCIO, we wholeheartedly believe all people, living with or without a disability, should have access to go where they please.

Need advice? Here are our Top Five Tips for creating a barrier free business:

#1: Ramp up your commitment to accessibility 

First impressions are crucial, and the inclusion of a ramp confirms right off the bat how easily (or not so easily) customers can access your business. Need a ramp? The Stop Gap Foundation provides portable, lightweight ramps at a low cost.

 

#2: Update your washroom

An accessible washroom has a door that is at least 85cm wide, a grab bar at the side and back of the toilet, an 80cm space beside the toilet, and a turning radius of 1.2m. If you need more space, install a bathroom door that swings out instead of in. Sometimes, the solution is that simple.

#3: Be flexible

Adding a flexible cord to your debit machine or investing in wireless technology gives customers a more comfortable checkout experience, especially for those using wheelchairs who may not be able to reach a fixed device.

#4: Clean up the clutter

Making sure your aisles are clear of any excess clutter ensures customers have a wide passageway that can accommodate those using an aid. Adding a little extra space inside your business creates a more enjoyable, stress and hazard free customer experience.

#5: Invest in your employees

Creating mandatory sensitivity training for employees is the best way to ensure your businesses atmosphere is highly inclusive and free of barriers for people with disabilities. SCIO offers employee training that provides education on a host of different topics surrounding accessibility and inclusion.

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