Head of WorkSpace IQ
Every successful business person knows the value of attracting great staff and providing excellent customer service.
All of us who take our business seriously invest time and money to do the best we can in both of these fundamental areas. However, regardless of how much effort we put in, there is probably more we can do to provide every one of the people who do business with us, a better overall experience.
Wherever you happen to be as you read this piece, please stop right now; look up and look around you. Look at the nearest doorway. Think about the main entrance way you used to enter the building or the space you’re in.
Was it easily accessible from your point of view? How about for others? If you’re in an office, consider the people you work with and the visitors who call in; customers, suppliers and professional associates. If you’re in a waiting room or reception area, cafe, or shop, consider the various different needs of the people who might come and go.
Accessibility facilitates meaningful social change
When buildings and their environment are well designed in terms of accessibility from the outset, the cost of getting it right is no more, or only marginally more, expensive than doing nothing. This naturally makes the space much more usable for everyone. This is where the term Universal Design is often used because it is just that – design for everyone.
How can you make a difference?
Unless we have a personal reason to do so, accessibility isn’t necessarily something we think about naturally. So what can you do to make a difference?
To start with, simply thinking about these issues deliberately will make you realise how much we can take for granted unless we have any access issues ourselves. Talking about them to others and bringing the problem to an organisation’s attention can be an effective way to start an accessibility ball rolling.
You might come up with some simple remedies to problems. For example, doors can be made that are easier to open and wide enough to get through easily if you are using crutches or in a wheelchair, or fit a less strong spring on a self closing door.
If you’re renovating or moving premises, you might consider ramp access instead of steps or make sure there’s an easily accessible toilet.
Making our environment more universally accessible is not a difficult process and often just a few changes are all that’s needed to make all the difference to ease of access for everyone.