Facemasks to tactile wash stations how businesses can help people with disabilities access their services and products in the easing of lockdown

Re-designing walkways, introducing one-way systems, installing wash and sanitising stations, businesses have faced many challenges to re-open safely after what has already been an extremely difficult time for businesses.

And now, with facemasks compulsory for shoppers, it has brought an added another barrier and anxiousness for many disabled people, many who are exempt from wearing facemasks – including those who lip read.

So, in tackling coronavirus and re-starting in a new normal, we wanted to pass on a few tips  to help you to ensure that your social distancing measures continue to support people with disabilities – both visual and hidden.

Temporary signage

Block capital can be difficult for people with learning difficulties and visual impairments.

A-Frames

With an increase in the use of A-frames to display information, be careful they do not cause obstructions – especially for those with a visual impairment.

Temporary Queuing systems

Consider if you are creating hazards for people who may have learning disabilities, visual impairments or physical disabilities

Facemasks

Consider adjustments for people who lip read. Can staff remove their mask, step back to the required social distance to continue the conversation with the customer?

Wash Stations and Sanitisers

Make hand sanitiser and/or hand washing stations on a level accessible to wheelchair users.

Chairs

With the potential of longer queues or a limit on the number of customers you have at one time, consider supplying chairs at intervals for people who cannot stand for long periods of time.

Websites and social media

Many people with disabilities research before they visit a place or a business. They don’t just look to check out its accessibility (ramps, handrails, toilets etc.) but pictures of your business also help people with conditions such as autism to get acquainted with it and minimise anxiety. It is beneficial to highlight new structure and system changes on your website and social media.

Can I help?

Are staff confident to help a disabled person? If a member of staff sees someone with a disability, ask if they need help, for example offering a description of the lay out or new system, let a person know when a queue has moved on, which will help blind or visually impaired people and those with hidden disabilities, such as learning difficulties.

Sometimes, businesses worry about offending people with disabilities, but patience, kindness and small changes are not going to cost your business anything, but they will make a massive difference both to welcome people with disabilities and to your business.

One in five of people in the UK has a disability and nationally the Purple £ – the spend of disabled visitors and their families-  is worth an estimated £249 billion, so your business will also benefit by ensuring you open-up to this market.

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