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Including Accessibility in Your Retail Policy

Under the Customer Service Standards of the AODA, service providers must make their goods, services, and facilities accessible to customers with disabilities. Our last article outlined accessible features in retail stores. In this article, we cover how a store should include accessibility in its retail policy. In particular, we look at how a store can ensure that its policy shows its welcome for all customers.

Including Accessibility in Retail Policy

Below we outline how a store can include accessibility in its retail policy.

Welcome Customers

Stores must welcome all customers who enter with assistive devices or service animals. Service animals are legally permitted in stores, including malls with food courts and stores that sell food.

Prevent Barriers

Stores can also enhance their accessibility by ensuring that their policies do not create barriers for customers with certain disabilities. For example, a store may have a no-refund policy for clothing. This policy assumes that customers can use fitting rooms to try on clothing before buying it. However, if a store’s fitting rooms are not accessible for customers using assistive devices, this policy discriminates against them. Therefore, stores should modify this type of policy so that customers using mobility devices can have refunds for clothing they need to return after they try it on at home.

In another example, a store might offer a discount if customers purchase in person. On the other hand, a different store might offer an online-only discount. Both of these discounts could exclude certain customers. For instance, a customer might not be able to enter the store but want to purchase discount items remotely. Staff should apply the in-person discount to products that this customer buys online or over the phone. In contrast, a customer might want to take advantage of an online discount but find the store’s check-out page inaccessible. The store should work on making its website fully compliant with web content accessibility guidelines. In the meantime, staff should apply the online discount to products the customer purchases by phone or in person.

Furthermore, store staff need to know what their policies are, and in what situations they apply differently for customers with disabilities. This awareness helps them let customers know about available service options promptly and accurately. In addition, stores should notify customers through:

Our next article will cover how staff can build on accessible retail policies to offer all customers an accessible service experience.