Ian Eggleton, Director of Access Consultancy considers why actively welcoming disabled visitors isn't just the right thing to do, it makes great business sense.
The number of disabled people in the UK is on the rise. In 2017, there were 13.9 million people - that's up 12% compared to 2014. The so-called 'purple pound' is an important consideration for UK businesses - that's 1 in 5 of your potential customers!
Research shows that 75% of disabled people and their families have walked away from a UK business because of poor accessibility or customer service. Organisations are missing out on the business of disabled consumers due to poor accessibility (both physical and digital) and not being disability confident in their customer services approach.
Can your business afford to ignore the needs of this growing sector?
Business across all sectors report huge losses each month by not being accessible, with banks/building societies (£901m per month) and supermarkets (£501m per month) topping the chart. Accessible tourism is a hot topic too, with hotels, tourist attractions and pubs/clubs/restaurants all starting to realise the value of offering more inclusive visitor experiences.
What are my legal obligations?
If the commercial drivers alone weren't compelling enough, you do indeed have legal obligations under The Equality Act 2010, which brought together all anti-discrimination legislation into one Act covering disability, race, gender, religious, sex and age discrimination. The requirements on you are different depending on whether you are an employer, service provider or an educational establishment, but the duty of care applies to all of us as business owners.
So, what should I do about it?
The first thing to consider is commissioning a Disabled Access Audit - an Access Audit helps you to understand your obligations under the Equality Act. It identifies barriers to disabled access, sets out options for removing these barriers, assesses which option is the most reasonable and then makes a clear recommendation as to which option to implement, when to do it and how much it will cost.
The Access Audit can form the basis of a plan of action to enable you to improve the accessibility of your building, environment or service over time. By having an Access Audit and then implementing its recommendations, you will be able to demonstrate that you have adopted a reasonable approach, which will help you to defend a complaint or action brought against you by a disabled person, but more importantly, you will be improving access for disabled people and, in all likelihood many other users.
How can we help?
Evans Jones have been working in the industry since the inception of the Disability Discrimination Act in 1997 and have completed more than 7000 Disabled Access Audits to date across all manner of different buildings and environments. We don't have an 'agenda' and come with a practical, realistic and commercially-aware approach, which always focuses on what our clients want - whether you want to drive best-practice standards or simply ensure that you are meeting minimum requirements.
If you would like to discuss the accessibility of your business, please email Ian Eggleton or call 0800 001 4090.