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Tips on Making Sure Every Customer Feels Welcomed

Two women, one in a wheelchair, sit at a bar enjoying drinks and talking with one another, due to the accessible counter height.

What business wouldn’t want to increase its customer base and in doing so, increase its bottom line? By making sure your business is accessible and welcoming to everyone, your customer base will grow. 

Customers and clients with disabilities are a sizable but often overlooked and under-reached portion of the public. Are some people with disabilities living on very tight budgets? Absolutely. However, many people with disabilities are financially secure and enthusiastic consumers of goods and services. 

Here’s the interesting thing about the disability community - it’s the only club you can join at any time, any age, and often without notice. In other words, if your loyal customer Jean has a bad fall, is in a car wreck, or loses her sight, will she still be able to shop easily at your store or access your services? Will your business still be welcoming to her? 

This blog is about a few inexpensive and uncomplicated things you can do to make sure your site is accessible and welcoming to all customers. These tips will increase the likelihood that your customer with a disability will tell other potential customers with disabilities about their positive experience purchasing your products. So, what are a few simple changes you can make that might make ALL the difference? Here’s just a handful:

    •    Your place of business is easy to navigate for a wheelchair user (or a Mom with a stroller), instead of being cluttered or having pathways blocked with displays and overstock
    •    Your staff is trained to talk directly to a customer with a disability, instead of engaging exclusively with a customer’s companion, personal assistant, or sign language interpreter
    •    Menus or other materials like brochures, flyers, and signage are available in alternative formats, such as Braille
    •    Your staff knows what you can legally ask a customer who enters your place of business with a service animal
    •    Your place of business doesn’t suffer from sensory overload for customers with disabilities who might be easily overwhelmed
    •    The majority of your items for sale are not out of reach for a customer with a wheelchair or any other limiting factor that affects the ability to shop independently 
    •    Your staff is aware and sensitive to the ways in which customers with hidden disabilities, such as Autism, traumatic brain injuries, or intellectual disabilities, might behave a little differently

The great news is that there are organizations and agencies who can help you with all of these inclusive suggestions, like us at the Tennessee Disability Coalition. Need something in Braille or an alternative format? We know who can do that. Need a friendly site visit to help you arrange your place of business to be more accessible? We know who can do that. Need a staff training on disability sensitivity and awareness? We know who can do that. If you are in Tennessee, we or our partner agencies can give you support with all of your needs. 

Our campaign this year is called “In This Together”. It is our hope that we have opportunities to collaborate with all kinds of businesses to make sure they are accessible and welcoming to all customers. These efforts will increase your bottom line and increase the number and variety of goods and services options for people with disabilities. 

For more information, please reach out to us at 615-383-9442 or email us at communitylearning@tndisability.org

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Tennessee Disability Coalition

The Coalition is an alliance of organizations and individuals who have joined to promote the full and equal participation of men, women and children with disabilities in all aspects of life. We work together to advocate for public policy that ensures self-determination, independence, empowerment, and inclusion for people with disabilities in areas such as accessibility, education, healthcare, housing, and voting rights.

Copyright © 2018 Tennessee Disability Coalition. All Rights Reserved. Tennessee Disability Coalition

 

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Tennessee Disability Coalition
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Nashville: (615) 383-9442Toll-free: (888) 643-7811Email: coalition@tndisability.org