As a profoundly deaf person, I am continually confronted by a lack of accessibility when it comes to purchasing goods and services.
As the owner of a lifestyle business, you’re continually confronted by the need to reach more people and communicate a real point of difference.
Today, I’d like to show you nine ways in which you can make your business accessible to folk like me, and in the process, help your business too.
1. Modify your contact page
Remove the requirement to leave a phone number AND an email. Instead ADD a preferred contact method option –a choice of email, phone or text.
BONUS FOR YOU: You will never ring your customers at a ‘bad time’.
2. Become familiar with the National Relay Service
This allows speech impaired/Deaf/hard of hearing (HoH) clients who use the service to make phone calls.
BONUS FOR YOU: You can use the service yourself when returning a call to a speech impaired/Deaf/HoH (it’s free to use).
3. Don’t use overseas call centres
Why not try Enabled Employment or virtual assistants from the Flying Solo community.
BONUS FOR YOU: Even those with perfect hearing have trouble understanding accents.
4. Use IM
There are multiple IM platforms IM such as Viber/Facetime/Skype that allow you to have a real-time conversation via the written word
BONUS FOR YOU: You probably already have and use IM for personal use.
5. Allow on-line returns
Online shopping has been brilliant for many with a disability however I do not understand why I have to call a company to return an item that I’ve ordered on-line. I bought the item using my account, why can’t I use my account to return/exchange an item too?
BONUS FOR YOU: Self-service is cheaper than staff.
6. Transcribe your webinars, videos and podcasts
You don’t have to publish word-for-word what was said. You can publish an outline or dot points or tidy up your script and publish that.
BONUS FOR YOU: Your SEO will increase as you publish more material online and you’ve tailored your material for learning styles/preferences.
7. A microphone at speaking engagements
Not using one doesn’t make the event informal, it just makes it inaccessible.
BONUS FOR YOU: Everyone will hear your message loud and clear.
8. Don’t assume anything
I lost my tickets to a rock concert because I didn’t answer a call from a booking agent to confirm my ticket purchase. I sent an email from the address I used to purchase the tickets, I returned their call via NRS, I used their Live Chat facility. But they wouldn’t accept anything but a voice call they made at a time that suited them. They didn’t understand that I couldn’t use the phone but would still want to attend a rock concert. Why can’t a sight impaired person buy art? Why can’t someone with a prosthetic leg learn to dance?
BONUS FOR YOU: Not all disabilities are visible so you will avoid making a bad first impression with your customer.
9. If I inform you about my disability
Don’t apologise; ask what you can do to assist me instead. I’ve given you an opportunity to provide tailored customer service so … use it! Truthfully, you should be asking ALL your customers this same question.
BONUS FOR YOU: Word of mouth recommendations from happy customers is your best form of marketing.
The late Stella Young said it best:
“Living with a disability is nothing compared to living with exclusion.”
Making your business accessible isn’t just good for the community it is good for business too.