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Tips to make your business more accessible -
working toward a barrier free Whitchurch-Stouffville

August 10, 2010

Is your business fully accessible? Did you know that customers with disabilities, both visible and non-visible, make up more than 15 per cent of your customer base? It may be something that many of us have never thought of before but for others it is a constant concern and a way of life. Accessibility is a crucial aspect to both the architectural and operational design of your business. Accessibility must be carefully considered as  many individuals wishing to access and utilize your business services will rely upon your compliance with accessibility standards in order to do so.

The Accessibility Advisory Committee is a volunteer committee committed to increasing the access to services and facilities in Stouffville and to fulfilling the requirements for the accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities Act 2005. The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA) is provincial legislation that aims to achieve full accessibility throughout the Province by the year 2025.  This legislation requires both public and private sectors to adhere to Accessibility Standards in 5 key areas:

  1. Customer Service
  2. Information and Communication
  3. Transportation
  4. Employment
  5. Built Environment

The Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville's Accessibility Advisory Committee suggests that there are four easy steps toward making your business more accessible. Please read through the following and determine whether your business is ready to serve every customer who wishes to access your services.

1. Make it easy for everyone to find and enter your business

  • use clear, high-contrast signage to direct people to your business
  • never store snow in the available accessible parking spots
  • wherever possible eliminate stairs and steps
  • add a ramp where possible
  • add handrails at the front entrance
  • move sandwich board signs away from the main entrance
  • to give more maneuvering room
  • keep ramps clear
  • position the door handle at a height of 100 cm above ground
  • offer help to those entering your business

2. Offer alternative methods of providing service

  • offer delivery services
  • offer personal shopper assistance
  • make sure your web site meets accessibility standards

3. Make getting around your business easier

  • keep aisles clear of clutter or displays
  • have a high level of lighting and avoid glare
  • use clear, simple signage
  • offer menus and other written materials in large print or Braille
  • Place a straight backed chair with no arms in your store
  • to allow customer to rest
  • keep background noise to a minimum
  • make sure counters are accessible

4. Prepare your staff and yourself

  • consider sensitivity training for staff
  • offer assistance to people with disabilities, but never insist... ask how you can help!
  • Encourage staff to accommodate people with disabilities
  • Ask assistance from the W/S Accessibility Advisory Committee

Accessibility is easier then you think! Make your business more accessible today!

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