Under the Customer Service Standards of the AODA, service providers must make their goods, services, and facilities accessible to customers with disabilities. Since providers offer different kinds of services, this requirement applies differently to each kind of provider. This article will outline accessible customer service for retail stores. Accessible retail features help shoppers of all abilities buy what they need and want.
Accessible Retail Features
Malls and stores show their welcome for customers using assistive devices, like wheelchairs and scooters, when they have accessible structural features. For instance, some of the accessible structural features that stores or malls might have are:
- Accessible Parking
- Ramped or level entrances
- Automatic doors and wide doorways
- Lifts or elevators whenever there are stairs
- Accessible public washrooms and fitting rooms
- Wide aisles and paths of travel
- Visual fire alarms
- Line areas and service counters that accommodate customers using mobility devices
Other features can also help stores become more accessible. For instance, good lighting will help clients who are Deaf communicate visually. Lighting is also important for customers who are visually impaired. Moreover, additional seating may benefit customers with invisible physical disabilities who cannot stand in long lines.
Moreover, signage is also important. Signs should:
- Include detailed information for customers with hearing disabilities
- Use clear language or pictures for customers with intellectual disabilities
- Be at eye level for customers at wheelchair and standing heights
- Have large print and good colour contrast for customers with visual impairments
- Include Braille for customers who are blind
Stores should also provide print information, like flyers and catalogues, in accessible formats. For instance:
- Large print
- Online on accessible websites
- Accessible Word or html files
Staff should tell every customer about all the formats they have information available in. Customers remember organizations with information that they or their loved ones can read.
Stores can have a third party produce hard-copy Braille or large-print documents. In addition, stores can produce versions of hard-copy content in accessible web formats. If websites follow Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, customers can read them using accessible computers or phones.
Finally, stores should provide multiple contact methods for customers to get in touch with them, including:
- Phone and teletypewriter (TTY) numbers
- email addresses
- Accessible online catalogues for browsing and ordering products, and contact forms
Our next article will cover how stores can create policies ensuring inclusion for all customers, even if locations do not yet have accessible retail features.