Around 16% of the population has a disability. That may be a mobility or dexterity problem or may be a hidden disability affecting breathing or perhaps requiring prompt access to a lavatory. Not everyone with a disability uses a wheelchair or has a support dog.
Dementia is a disability. The Alzheimer Society estimates that there are 850,000 people living with dementia, two thirds of whom live in the community and 40,000 of them are under the age of 65. Surveys show that 80% of people living with dementia say their favourite activity is shopping.
It is estimated that 10% of the population is somewhere on the dyslexia spectrum. Dyslexia is a disability.
All of these people are potentially our customers, but only if we provide our goods and services in a way that is accessible and welcoming to those living with a disability. Here are some ideas to help your business be disability friendly and to meet your obligations under the Equality Act 2010.
- provide a chair so disabled customers can get their breath back or ease aching limbs. Even better, provide a chair with arms as this helps people to stand from a sitting position.
- Make sure your signage is accurate and has dark coloured wording on a light background. This makes it easier for the visually impaired to read the message and is helpful to people on the dyslexia spectrum. Your customers will return if it is easy for them to find what they are looking for. Of course, this also applies to your on-line presence – if folk can’t read your website they will not or cannot use your services.
- Avoid using colours on the red or green spectrum. 1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 women are colour blind making it difficult if not impossible for them to see your message if it is written in red or green. Check your website as well as your other communications.
- Avoid fancy fonts. No squiggles, no italics and no underlining. Then everyone, including those with dyslexia, will be able to read what you have written.
- One symptom of dementia is a loss of ability to judge distance and to see objects in three dimensions. A dark coloured doormat may look like a hole to someone with dementia and no one wants to fall in a hole so the customer may be lost to you before they enter your premises. If you have a doormat please make sure it is not a trip hazard to those with mobility problems and is a light colour to encourage access to those with symptoms of dementia.
- Be kind to those who dither, can’t find their money or have forgotten their debit/credit card ID. A majority of us need to access goods or services and none of us is getting any younger!
If you would like more help or guidance on making your business disability friendly – just drop me an email or give me a call. Brenda Roper at B&D Roper HR