5 things to consider when thinking about accessibility
Nov 1, 2022
At the time of publishing this, it’s Purple Tuesday, a global social movement to improve the customer experience for disabled people. We know that right now there are around 1.3 billion disabled people in the world that represent 17% of the population - 8% of which are wheelchair users, and 80% of disabled people have hidden impairments. We also know that the spending power of disabled people is over 274 billion pounds a year. So it doesn’t just benefit disabled people - it benefits everyone! In light of this, we thought we’d share some top tips for you about what to consider when wanting to make your space more accessible. Here at Sociability and on our app, when mapping - we don’t just look at whether somewhere has a ramp - we note a wide range of aspects and here they are…
So of course, the most typically thought-about access adjustment (yet not always delivered!) is step-free access. There are still many buildings without step-free access. We say step-free as sometimes people incorrectly use terms like “wheelchair friendly” but may still have a small step into a building. It’s important to note that being step-free is the safest way to properly tick that somewhere is accessible for a wheelchair user or someone who finds steps to be a barrier.
This may not be something you consider, but the Visual/Sensory and Hearing aspects of a venue are very important for a lot of people. Have you checked if your lighting is extremely bright or flashes? Is there an area that is dimmer if bright lights are a barrier? In terms of smells, it’s not just about “bad” smells, you can have a really lovely smelling venue, but the strength of it can also impact people negatively (for example, strong perfumes or beauty products). And lastly, noise - for many reasons including being able to communicate clearly. Do customers have a space to talk or are there quiet spaces available? All of these considerations will mean that it is safer for someone to enter and socialise in your venue.
Being able to access a toilet is a basic right but also at times not always available for a lot of the disabled community. There are many parts of a bathroom that make something more accessible, to name a few: Wider doorsGrab rails Contrasted colour of the toilet seatWheelchair height mirror Sink with space underneath to be able to get as close as possible when using a wheelchairRed cords to alert when emergency assistance is neededEnough wheelchair-turning spaceMedical waste binsChanging tables
And finally, of course, you can have incredible accessibility physically and sensory but not be welcoming to disabled people at all. How you communicate with disabled people is vital and should always be considered. Here are a few basic top tips:Always speak to the disabled customer, don’t assume the person they’re with will communicate for themRemind customers you’re there if they require assistanceDon’t ask intrusive questions that you don’t need to know whilst they’re visiting your venue
So there you have it, that’s a whistle-stop tour of how you can be more mindful of accessibility. The first four aspects we mentioned in this blog are all tags that we map when mapping venues on our Sociability app - so if you’d like to find out how accessible venues are that are local to you, head over there and join us! In the meantime - remember accessibility isn’t just about ramps, it’s the whole package and it benefits everyone to make sure you get it right.
What else would you add to the list? If you’d like to learn more about disability, be sure to follow us on Instagram/Facebook/Twitter or LinkedIn.