When my Junior Achievement company was discussing whether to run a company based on accessibility, there were many objections. There were many objections because accessibility appeared to many people as a sensitive topic and a difficult task to improve, with a small target market and little impacts on the community. Looking back, I think many of us were wrong.
Objection #1: But Most People Don’t Have Accessibility Needs?
Statistics from the World Bank Group show that one billion people, or 15% of the total world population, face some form of disability. Moreover, one-fifth of the estimated global total, or between 110 million and 190 million people, experience significant disabilities. While this is already a large number, the true value is actually still much higher. The reality is that most people will experience some form of disability or even an enhanced difficulty getting normal tasks completed during their lifetime. For example, women who are pregnant can have difficulty when walking, elders with bad hips can struggle trying to climb up some steps, parents with strollers for their children may not be able to to get through a rotational door, delivery men trying to get their trolley carts through a non-automatic door, women with high-heels trying to walk over rough and irregular surfaces, and, of course, people who use wheelchairs. Therefore, there are more people who have accessibility needs than we would expect. Although some of these situations are merely temporary accessibility issues, it creates incentives for Accesso to work hard because we know that we are not just dealing with 15% of the total population, but a much larger number.
Objection #2: But Why Would Businesses Improve Their Stores to Be More Accessible?
On the first sight, making a place accessible might mean putting in money and resources to build and design ramps, elevators, automatic doors, unused spaces, wide corridors, and large change rooms for those who experience disability. However, what people don’t realize is that they not only better their businesses by making their stores more accessible but also bring in more customers, more revenues, and more profits. Consider a hypothetical scenario, a store with an inaccessible entrance lose the profits of a few customers on wheelchairs. While that is just a few customers, the impact is, in reality, much greater. Because most people who are on wheelchairs travel with companions or friends to help them get around, that store is likely to lose the business of those people too. And soon, the loss of potential profits for that store multiplies up. Just one person who uses a wheelchair could determine where a wedding or a conference for more than 500 attendants takes place. Thus, making a store accessible actually makes good business sense.
Objection #3: But What Can We Do to Improve Disability Accessibility?
Making the world more accessible can be a difficult task to take at once, so Accesso started to target malls in our local city, Toronto, to begin our first step. Our plan A to improve accessibility is to gather a massive database of stores around Toronto, based on their locations and our accessibility rubric. There, we proceed to put an informative list of stores for each mall around Toronto on our website, with notes on accessibility, additional details, and a rating out of 5. With this, we hope we can make the world easier and more accessible for those with accessibility needs. Our plan B is to raise awareness in the community around us. We have posted our Website, talked to stores, and set up a booth to reach out to others. So far, we were able to make a store accessible by talking to the owner and repositioning its display.
So What if I am Not in Accesso? How Can I Help?
You can easily contribute by just doing two simple things. First, if your local shops or business have good accessibility, then compliment them. This action recognizes what is already good and encourage positive change. Second, if the business could improve accessibility, then let them know and make them aware. Every little detail counts; because when you integrate them together, they make up the world.
For more information, feel free to browse through our website, check out our social media pages, and let us know if you have any questions, comments, and suggestions.
An accessible world is an inclusive world.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TX-ITy4yaeI
Disability Inclusion Overview.https://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/disability
Why Disability Accessibility Matters.https://themighty.com/2017/09/why-disability-accessibility-matters/