The 12 Ways to an Accessible Christmas - a guide

23 November 2018

All we want for Christmas…are shops we can access!

The festive shopping season has well and truly kicked off with Black Friday. But are disabled shoppers really getting what they want for Christmas?

Too many gift-hunters will be put off from shops this year by a mix of inaccessible premises, lack of understanding of disabilities, and poor service.

There may be more than twelve days of Christmas in today’s fast-paced world but getting accessible shopping right still comes down to twelve top tips.

Start by asking

A good approach to welcoming disabled customers comes down to one question for every business to ask: ‘What is great customer service?’

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The spending power of disabled people in the UK is around £249 billion per year and rising. This means that quite apart from being the right thing to do as an ethical retailer, it makes good business sense to provide services, premises and websites that are both accessible and usable for the widest possible group of customers. When surveyed about access, 72 per cent of disabled people said that were more likely to visit somewhere new if they were welcomed by staff or the venue appeared to care about access.

Likewise, smart businesses will know this means training customer-facing colleagues on how to provide excellent customer service to disabled people.

Businesses that take these steps will be providing the best shopping experience for everyone, regardless of disability.

Do not assume

It is likely that 1 in 5 of your customers and clients will have a disability and many will have a condition which is not visibly apparent.

A customer may have a disability but may never mention it to you or describe themselves in that way.

12 Ways to an accessible Christmas

  1. Know your customer. If you are not sure how best to assist someone, then ask. Don’t be embarrassed.
  2. Treat disabled customers with the same courtesy and respect as anyone else.
  3. Be aware of your legal obligations. But don’t stop there. Aim to go beyond them.
  4. Ensure that disabled customers can access your service in the same way or as close as possible to the same way as anyone else.
  5. Offer a reasonable alternative to any disabled customer who cannot access your service. Whilst the way you do something may change, the level of service should not change.
  6. Make sure signage is clear and direct.
  7. Grant access to assistance dogs. Assistance dogs provide vital support to a wide range of disabled people and people with long-term conditions.
  8. Ensure that customer service and sales assistants know the building, including where lifts, accessible toilets, ramps, and hearing loops are located. Make sure these are working and know what to do when they don’t.
  9. Know your emergency evacuation procedures, how they affect people with disabilities, and how to explain them clearly.
  10. Look out for people who may need extra assistance and offer help regardless of whether or not you think the person has a disability.
  11. Always be patient and never rush the customer, even if other customers are waiting.
  12. Have local public transport information available, including numbers of accessible taxis.

Find out more

Good customer service for disabled people isn’t just for Christmas. It should be something which all retailers offer, all year round.

Equally, it doesn’t stop with these twelve tips.

We have a wealth of information and guidance available for retailers, covering all aspects of disability access and best practice. Find out more on our resources page.

We also offer in-person guidance, training and consultancy so you can get the best from your approach to inclusion.

Members and Partners of Business Disability Forum

All of the above and more is available if your organisation has joined Business Disability Forum, including prompt advice and answers to your queries from our popular Advice Service.

For more information, visit our homepage or contact your Relationship Manager or Strategic Advisor.