Tips for Reaching Out to Customers With Disabilities

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was landmark legislation that became a law in the United States in 1990. The ADA is intended to prevent discrimination against individuals with disabilities and ensure individuals with disabilities can access buildings and services.

In the United States, 61 million people live with a disability. Despite the ADA, many individuals still encounter accessibility issues, even when new public buildings are constructed. Businesses that do focus on serving the needs of people with disabilities benefit from creating an inclusive environment. You can use these strategies to ensure your business meets the needs of disabled persons.

Encourage Dialogue

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Communicate with individuals with disabilities and their families. Use a VOC program to develop customized surveys that enable your clientele to provide you with insightful feedback. You can use this information to modify your business operations in order to accommodate the needs of individuals with disabilities. VOC survey software is also designed to alert you if you have received negative feedback, enabling you to respond to issues promptly.

When individuals with disabilities visit your business, engage them in conversation. If you develop a rapport with your clientele, you may get direct feedback and advice. Observe your clients in order to determine if they can access all areas in your store. Some aisles may be too narrow for wheelchairs, and some products may be unreachable. Ask if there are improvements you can make to accommodate their needs. All individuals feel valued when people listen to them, and initiating a discussion is an effective way to show disabled persons you respect them.

Talk to Individuals Directly

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One of the mistakes people can make is to overlook disabled individuals and address staff or family members who may be with them. Address disabled individuals directly whenever possible and introduce yourself.

Do Some Research

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Perform local research to identify the most common disabilities in your area. If your business is near a retirement community, you may have many potential customers with mobility issues or visual impairments. If your business is near a school for hearing impaired students, you may determine that learning American Sign Language (ASL) or posting signs in ASL may benefit your potential clients. When you identify everyday needs, you can begin to determine how to address those individuals’ needs.

Some individuals may use communication devices or have speech impairments, which can cause a delay in their response. When you learn about disabilities you begin to recognize some key signs that a person needs more time to communicate with you. By being patient, you can foster dialogue and assure disabled customers that you value them.

Network with Organizations

Identify local organizations that serve disabled individuals and open a dialogue with those organizations. Some organizations may offer programs you can attend. In Maryland, The Arc of Carroll County created a police training program after a disabled man was killed in an incident with police. The training teaches police to de-escalate conflicts involving individuals with intellectual disabilities or mental health issues. Local organizations may offer your staff training opportunities to ensure that they have the skills needed to serve disabled customers effectively.

Learn from Experts

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Take time to learn about disabilities and how different disabilities are treated. You can read books or talk to medical and mental health experts for insight. For example, when you understand the steps patients go through when receiving scoliosis treatment, you may be able to identify ways in order to adjust your building and services to accommodate those individuals’ needs.

Add wheelchair-accessible ramps and widen doorways to ensure your building is accessible. Install visual displays so that people with hearing loss can use them to learn about products and services. You can also add low counters to serve individuals in wheelchairs.

Hire and host disabled individuals.

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Locate senior centers, retirement homes, community programs, and residential homes for people with disabilities and hire individuals with disabilities as consultants. Ask them to evaluate your facility to determine how accessible it is. You can also host events focused on disabled clients. This is an excellent way of establishing yourself as an advocate for the disabled community and ensuring your company meets disabled clienteles’ needs.