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Improving Disability Access Makes Perfect Business Sense

Making Alterations in Business Sites to Accommodate Disabilities

By Clint Hazard

Updated November 28, 2012

This article focuses on disability issues from the perspective of the United Kingdom. Consequently, British spelling and references are used throughout.

When I decided to invest in a new business property I found a cracker of a shop within my budget in the centre of town. I knew it would be ideal. There was plenty of storage space out the back for the stock, ready-made changing rooms and inside it was spacious. As an overall package it had heaps of potential. The only problem was it hadn't been updated since the eighties and was in desperate need of upgrading to bring up to suit modern accessibility standards.

On my staff, I have a fantastic assistant who needs a wheelchair to get around. The one thing about the property that put me off was simply how unfriendly it was to people with disabilities. There were steps all over the place as well as out the back and this would make things difficult. I had to address these problems quickly, not only for my employee but also for our potential customers too.

Rather than making do with portable ramps I decided to put some money into making permanent ramp solutions. I contacted a disabled access consultancy and they were excellent. I was able to ask them to come into the premises and conduct an access audit. They did this without any problems. The report I was provided with confirmed my thoughts on the steps inside and also pointed out a few other issues that needed to be attended to. All of their findings and suggested improvements were in line with the Equality Act so I knew the work would be up to standard.

Affordable Solutions for a Better Environment

The consultant was also happy to help me to find affordable and effective solutions. I even asked them to talk to my builder for me to make sure that the building work was done properly to avoid problems down the line. They worked so hard for me and helped me to go through the process of making improvements without any hitches. I was so impressed and very pleased to be able to welcome in all of my employees once the work had been completed.

The ramps worked perfectly and were so much cheaper than evening out all the floors. I also added some rails inside and changed the doors. Now my customers don't have to push or pull as the doors are automatic which is a great benefit to customers that use walking aids and wheelchairs and wide enough even for all those mums with pushchairs. I have received nothing but praise from the public who have been able to come in and shop with ease.

Seek Out Professional Help

If you are making improvements, or buying a property that you wish to transform you must think about your access. The Equality Act states that you must make reasonable improvements so as not to discriminate and so many businesses fail to act on this. I don't understand why? The more business you can encourage in your shop the better so why not make the premises open to all? It just doesn't make sense to me.

Access consultants provide a valuable service and will ensure that any improvements you make are carried out correctly first time. They will even work with you to ensure your plans stand an excellent chance of being accepted. My employees and my customers were thought of right from the start of the planning. I was also had to think about how to provide excellent service to everyone and this has improved my business skills no end.

Don't risk turning away paying customers and don't take your employees for granted. Consult with the experts and make the necessary upgrades in your store for a better business all round. There are some brilliant services out there, don't miss your chance to become a hugely popular shop and an important part of the community.

Work on your disability access. Speak to consultants and ask for professional assistance to make sure your premises are up to standard.

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