Inclusive Customer Service Makes (Dollars and) Sense

As we head into the busy holiday season, people will be traveling, dining out, and shopping in stores and online. This includes people with disabilities. According to A Hidden Market: The Purchasing Power of Working-Age Adults with Disabilities, working age people with disabilities represent more than $450 billion in spending power. Retailers and hospitality companies may be missing out on this huge market if they are not meeting the needs of their customers with disabilities online, in store, and in person. Thankfully, there are tools, trainings, and other resources from the NIDILRR community and elsewhere to help create a positive customer experience for everyone!

Is your physical space accessible?

The ten regional centers of the ADA National Network can help you understand the accessibility requirements for a physical space, from the width of doors and the height of signage to specific equipment that should be available (like pool lifts in hotels).

The Access Board’s YouTube channel features videos that demonstrate accessibility standards for counter height, parking access, doors, signage, and much more.

Is your staff trained to provide exemplary customer service?

The ADA Regional Centers can also help with training your staff and ensuring your services are accessible. The Mid-Atlantic ADA Regional Center offers Serving Customers with Disabilities: A Toolkit. Learn more about this toolkit in this free webinar (Dec 4th, 12:30p ET) and how it gives practical guidance and fundamental principles for appropriate and respectful interactions with customers with disabilities.

This great video from the DC Office on Disability Rights demonstrates how to avoid awkward interactions by addressing misconceptions and assumptions about customers and co-workers with disabilities.

Make sure your staff is trained to use the equipment in place for your customers with disabilities. This Research In Focus article highlights new research that shows public transportation passengers in wheelchairs may not always be properly secured.

Are your marketing materials accessible and inclusive?

Your website is often your first chance to make a good impression on your customers. Making sure your website is accessible and usable will help keep that good impression going. The Web Accessibility Initiative at the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) introduces you to web accessibility and the W3C standards for accessibility and offers a huge collection of resources to help you create an inclusive web experience.

Your marketing and messaging materials also need to be inclusive, and that includes how you talk about your customers with disabilities. Guidelines: How to Write and Report About People with Disabilities from the Research and Training Center on Independent Living can help you craft a message that reaches and respects your audience.

By creating an accessible, usable, and welcoming environment, businesses can reach a potentially huge market of customers with disabilities, and that’s good for the bottom line!

If you are a business owner looking to reach customers with disabilities in your market, contact our information specialists for research and resources in your community!

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