If you’re able to design your own office building, store, or warehouse, there is one thing that’s vital to remember – accessibility. In the past, this might have been something that was forgotten about or ignored, but today, it’s well-known to be important for many different reasons. Let’s look at those reasons so that when the time comes for you to think about designs, you can go into the project with accessibility as a major priority. Designing an accessible building is crucial because it ensures equal opportunities and inclusion for all individuals, regardless of physical abilities, promoting a more diverse and supportive environment while complying with legal and ethical standards. Read on to find out more.
The most obvious point about making a building accessible – perhaps by adding ramps and lifts, making aisles wider, using larger print when it comes to poster and leaflet printing, and considering neurodivergent customers and ensuring the building is more of a help than a hindrance – is that it means you’ll be able to be more inclusive. In other words, people who might not have been able to visit your building before due to a physical or perhaps mental disability now can.
Being more inclusive shows that you’re a caring business that wants the best for its customers, and that will earn you a positive reputation, which in turn, brings you more customers and more sales. Although you wouldn’t necessarily be making your business more accessible so you could make more money, the fact that this is a bonus feature of helping other people certainly isn’t a bad thing to consider.
The law is very firm and very strict when it comes to ensuring businesses are more accessible, and there will certainly be laws governing your sector and your area when it comes to this. That means that if you don’t offer better accessibility, your business could be fined, and it nothing changes, it might even have to change.
That’s why it’s a good idea to ensure you check what the minimum requirements are for your area when you’re designing and building a workplace. Of course, you’ll want to go over and above that minimum level where you can, but knowing what the minimum is means you can ensure you’re doing at least that and more if it’s possible to do so. You won’t get into legal trouble, and your customers (and employees) will be much happier.
Long-Term Cost Savings
It’s clear that accessibility is important and that it’s the right thing to offer in terms of the moral and legal standpoint, but it’s also something that can save you money in the long run. If you think about accessibility right from the start and incorporate it into your building’s design, this can often be a lot less costly than having to go back and retrofit various accessible elements. Plus, as well as costing more, it’s often going to be disruptive to your business and could inconvenience employees and customers who, despite knowing that it’s a positive thing that’s happening, will still potentially be upset about having their usual routine changed in some way while the work is being done.
If you do it all at the start, you’ll save money, keep your customers happy (even happier if they have accessibility issues), and prevent any disruption. Since just one of these things going wrong will cause you problems within your business, and all three could be a disaster, it’s wise to think ahead and make plans with accessibility in place.
If you have a building that’s not particularly accessible, meaning people with disabilities and health problems can’t get in, then that’s a bad design, and it’s an unfair way of running a business – you’re literally excluding a percentage of the population. However, as bad as that is, if you have a business where people with access issues still have to visit, and they can get inside, even if it’s a struggle, but have trouble getting out again, that’s potentially even worse.
Firstly, it’s not very dignified for anyone to have to ask for help if there is a way to put accessible options in place so everyone can help themselves. Secondly, what if there was an emergency situation? If everyone had to evacuate the building quickly, how would anyone with accessibility issues manage? It would be highly dangerous, and it’s something that could lead to a lawsuit or worse. In order to keep everyone safe whether they’re in or out of the building, access – both ways – has to be done right.
It’s clear that accessibility is something you will need to consider for all these reasons and more – if you want a successful business that’s open to all and has a great reputation, accessibility is definitely a good start.