Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Have an Access Audit carried out and bring customers in

"There is so much to do here to make the building accessible that we can't afford it!"  "We are on rhe first floor so we can't get disabled people in here"
Both these statements are wrong. Both are said be people who are either mis-guided or don't want the trouble that they imagine disabled people would be. And when you speak about disabled people most think of just wheelchair users.Wheelchair users make up a tiny number. Many have impairments you wouldn't even know about. Look around you now. How many people can you see who have a heart condition, bad ashma, can't walk far or up steps, have poor eyesight or can't hear very well. The list goes on. A bit like an iceberg. We only see the tip.
So you should be thinking about an access audit if you haven't done so already. It's not too late.
Up til now most cases that have been brought against businesses in relation to disability discrimination have been settled out of court and so you don't know about them but it is happening. I think that this is going to change. On the whole disabled people have been patient and understanding. Well! In many cases they don't know their rights and often they don't feel they can make a difference.
An access audit is completed with a report laying out the steps you need to take to make your business accessible to all. Many are written by surveyors and architects and give exact specifications and are couched in technical terms. This is great if being read by some-one with the knowledge. But often the facilities manager or person responsible doesn't undestand and just passes the list onto a builder. When the work is complete they have to rely on the builder that the work is technically correct.
Mike Leahy writes script reports in layman's language that are easily understood and include the reason for the adjustment too. He takes a pragmatic apprioach and often knows of a quick fix or low cost adjustment. He'll also grade recommendations so you can deal with the priorities first and perhaps leave the "best practice" items til last.
If you haven't assessed what is necessary or taken any action do so now. It will ensure you comply with the legisltaion but equally important will broaden your customer base.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Are you losing business from over10 million potential customers?

Do you run a business? If so do you know about the Disability Discrimination Act 1995? Have you taken steps to ensure that disabled people can buy your products and services as easily as non-disabled people can?   Every disabled person and their families may be unable to buy from you because you haven't made provision for them.

There are over 10 million disabled people in the UK and each of them is a potential customer for you. Add to that their families and the number of potential customers is huge. 

The number of suppliers I have met recently who think that  having a website will allow disabled people to buy from them and that's all they need to do.  WRONG! You can't have a meal over the internet. Many people won't buy clothes over the internet because they want to try clothes on.

Think about the customer service you offer. Do you find actually talking to possible customers encourages them to buy from you? Do you train your staff to sell? Isn't it all about making a  connection with people and helping them make a buying decision? Yes! Of course it is. Yes I know that Argos sell from a catalogue so you can't feel and touch the products but you can take them back over a very generous returns guarantee. But isn't it true that they have cultivated this as a way of saving money. You assume that the prices are competitive . . .  but if you compare you'll possible find really competitive prices elswhere

1. There are over 6.9 million disabled people of working age which represents 19% of the working population.[1]
   2. There are over 10 million disabled people in Britain, of whom 5 million are over state pension age.[2]
   3. There are two million people with sight problems in the UK.[3]

Families with disabled children

   1. There are 770,00 disabled children under the age of 16 in the UK. That equates to 1 child in 20.[4]
   2. Only 8% of families get services from their local social services.[5]
   3. It costs up to three times as much to raise a disabled child as it does to raise a child without disabilities.[6]

Disability and employment

   1. There are currently 1.3 million disabled people in the UK who are available for and want to work.[7]
   2. Only half of disabled people of working age are in work (50%), compared with 80% of non disabled people.[8]
   3. 23% of disabled people have no qualifications compared to 9% of non disabled people.[9]
   4. Nearly one in five people of working age (7 million, or 18.6%) in Great Britain have a disability.[10]

The ageing population

   1. Over the last 25 years the percentage of the population aged 65 and over increased from 15 per cent in 1983 to 16 per cent in 2008, an increase of 1.5 million people in this age group. Over the same period, the percentage of the population aged 16 and under decreased from 21 per cent to 19 per cent. This trend is projected to continue. By 2033, 23 per cent of the population will be aged 65 and over compared to 18 per cent aged 16 or younger.[11]
   2. The fastest population increase has been in the number of those aged 85 and over, the ’oldest old‘. In 1983, there were just over 600,000 people in the UK aged 85 and over. Since then the numbers have more than doubled reaching 1.3 million in 2008. By 2033 the number of people aged 85 and over is projected to more than double again to reach 3.2 million, and to account for 5 per cent of the total population.