July is Disability Pride Month, and it is a great opportunity to honor people in the disability community and celebrate those with disabilities. Last week’s blog addressed what accessibility is, and this week we want to get more specific on how you can make your college store more accessible for students and employees with disabilities. Accessibility not only accommodates those with disabilities, but also accommodates seniors, parents with strollers, and delivery persons. Accessibility has a far-reaching effect, not only on your students but also your students’ families and shows that you are committed to treating each customer fairly, compassionately, and with respect.
Here are some easy ways you can start making your store more accessible.
Your team members will bring the most customer service, so it is important that they are trained to accommodate and respect all customers. Good training should establish consistent, fair treatment to anyone who comes in the store. It is good to already have policies in place and an accessibility plan.
This is also a good time to bring awareness to employees of any physical barriers where customers with disabilities may require extra assistance and how to navigate the store with service animals.
Walk through your store and determine if the physical space needs to be improved to be more accessible. Some areas to consider:
- Ramps – are there stairs anywhere without a ramp? Foundations such as stopgap.ca provide temporary, affordable ramps to businesses whose point of entry is inaccessible due to one step.
- Aisles – are your aisles clear and wide enough to allow space for customers with mobility aids?
- Parking – do you have handicap parking available?
- Signage – does your signs have large print (and even braille when able)?
- Counters – can sales counters be adjusted so someone in a wheelchair can comfortably access?
- Doorways – can wheelchairs fit through doorways?
- Bathrooms – is your bathroom large enough to accommodate mobility aids?
If your store has a website, take time to audit it for accessibility. Some things to consider:
- Website code: is it clean enough that a voice search or page-reading tool can easily distinguish between headers and body text?
- Is the contrast high enough for someone who is color blind?
- Are buttons large enough and easy to find?
- Has alt text been added to photos so that those who are visually impaired can understand what they are viewing?
If your store has a social media, creating accessible posts is an inexpensive way to make your platform more inclusive. Here are some tools you can use:
- Alt text feature – describe photos or videos that are posted so anyone using a screen reading program will have the content described to them.
- Closed captioning – use closed captioning tools on videos to help those with hearing impairments.
- Camel case for multi-word hashtags – screen readers have an easier time interpreting hashtags when the first letter of each word is capitalized.
How have you made your store more accessible? Share in the comments below!
Stay tuned for next week’s blog on accessibility for colleges.