Tips for making your business accessible
Council is committed to ensuring that everyone in our community is able to enjoy the benefits of living or working in Yarra. We want to see everyone enjoy local restaurants, shopping strips, music venues and cultural events.
Young people, older people, families, employees, employers, and people with a disability should all be able to enjoy what our city has to offer.
The information below aims to assist businesses in making their premises and services accessible to all customers.
Make it easy for people to find you
- If your business is accessible, let people know. For example, if you have wheelchair access, include this in your promotions and advertisements
- Put up clear signage to help people with vision or learning difficulties identify your premises
- Paint the entrance to your business in a contrasting colour to its surroundings (you must first check that this is allowed by contacting Council's planning unit on 9205 5373). If there are multiple entrances, provide clear directions about where each entrance is
- Be aware of reflective glass in your shopfront. People with vision impairment can find reflections, light and shadows confusing. One good solution is to put safety markings on the glass so people don’t walk into it
- Remove dangerous obstacles such as advertising boards, displays or furniture from the entrance to reduce the risk of people in wheelchairs, older people, or people with vision impairment falling over them.
Make it easy for people to get in
Please note that some of these modifications may require permission from Council.
- Ideally, remove steps and provide a level entry to your premises
- If you can’t provide a level entry, build a ramp
- If making the entrance level or building a ramp is not possible, consider moving the main entrance to a more accessible location
- Ensure your door handle is at a height that is easy for all customers to reach
- Make the door easier to open by making it lighter or automatic
- Make the doorway wide enough to allow a person with a walking frame, or wheelchair, to pass through with ease
- Make sure doormats are secure and level with the surrounding floor
- Install a handrail
- If possible, make sure there are clear sight lines between the entry and the counter so that staff are aware when a customer needs assistance to enter the premises or to purchase goods.
Make it easy for people to get around
Once inside your business, customers should be able to find their way to all sales areas, browse and inspect goods, and access the cash desk.
For people who are blind or have vision impairments:
- Make sure signs and price labels are clear. Ensure overhanging signs do not cause a hazard
- Ensure menus in cafes and restaurants are easy to read. Provide written menus or other product information in large print versions or have staff read information out to customers. Look at the possibility of providing information in Braille
- Ensure your business is well lit, especially around service counters.
For people who may have difficulty hearing:
- Find ways to reduce the amount of background noise or to turn down music when necessary
For people with mobility impairments:
- Make sure shopping aisles are wide enough (preferably 1.2 metres)
- Ensure at least part of your customer service area is at a height that is suitable for people using wheelchairs (750 – 800mm from floor level)
- Make sure at least one of your checkout aisles is wide enough
- Place goods, particularly the most popular ones, within reach for someone using a wheelchair. If this is not possible, make sure staff are trained to offer assistance
- Make a chair available for customers who may need to wait
- Ensure that electronic payment systems are on a long enough cord to pass over to someone using a wheelchair
- Make sure the floor surface is non-slip and free from trip hazards
- Look at installing a hearing loop or other system at your front counters to assist people using hearing aids, especially if there is a screen at the counter.
Make the most of customer service
- Treat each customer with a disability as an individual customer with their own likes and dislikes. Always focus on the person, not their disability. Always address the customer directly, not other people who may be with them (such as a sign interpreter)
- Always ask the customer first if they want help. Do not assume they need assistance. If the customer declines your help, always accept this response
- If you are having a conversation that will last more than a few moments with a customer using a wheelchair, bend to eye level or pull up a chair
- Ask customers with disabilities how they would like their goods or services to be provided.
When communicating with people who may have a learning difficulty, an intellectual disability or brain injury:
- Address the customer directly, listen carefully, speak clearly and check for understanding. Always use clear language without being patronising
- Allow your customer time to ask questions and try not to rush them. Try not to overload people with an intellectual disability with information. Reassure your customer you are there to help if they forget the information.
When communicating with people who have a hearing impairment:
- Always face the customer so they can read your lips
- Use your normal tone of voice and volume. If possible, move out of the way of background noise
- Have a pen and paper on hand to help you communicate with your customer.
When communicating with someone who has vision impairment:
- Always identify yourself by name. If appropriate, ask for their name so you can address them directly and so that they know you are talking to them and not someone else
- If your customer asks for assistance to go somewhere, ask which side you should be on and offer your arm so they can hold just above your elbow
- Never pat or distract a guide dog or offer it food while it is in a harness.
Where possible, an accessible toilet should be provided in premises where customers may be spending a long period of time (such as restaurants and cafes).
If you do not have an accessible toilet, make sure all staff know the location of the nearest accessible toilet.
Metro Access Officer
0438 395 453 (call or SMS)
National Relay Service
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TTY users phone 133 677 then ask for 03 9205 5555.
Speak & Listen users (speech-to-speech relay) phone 1300 555 727 then ask for 03 9205 5555.
Internet relay users connect to the National Relay Service via www.relayservice.com.au and then ask for 03 9205 5555.