Make your business accessible

You might be missing potential customers if your premises are not accessible for all.

We want to see everyone enjoy local restaurants, shopping strips, music venues and cultural events.

Meeting your legal responsibilities

Improving access will also assist your business to meet your legal responsibilities. In Australia, the law says that customers with disabilities should be able to access your goods or services just like any other customer. If a customer with a disability cannot get into your building or cannot access your goods or services they could make a complaint of discrimination under State anti-discrimination laws, or the Federal Disability Discrimination Act. Making your business more accessible is also likely to make it safer for both customers and staff and could have an effect on your public liability and workplace safety responsibilities. For more information on your legal obligations see ‘Further contacts’ at the end of this guide.

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

Put up clear signage to help people with vision or learning difficulties identify your premises.

Contrast the colour of your business entrance

Paint the entrance to your business in a contrasting colour to its surroundings (you must first check that this is allowed by contacting our Planning Unit on 9205 5555). If there are multiple entrances, provide clear directions about where each entrance is located.

Be aware of reflective glass

Clear glass entrances can be hard to see, reflections and shadows can cause confusion for people with vision impairments. Make your glass entrance safe and easy to see by placing markings 900mm -1200mm from the ground. Markings such as business name or logos and opening hours in a contrasting colour on the shop front glass, so it can be clearly seen from the footpath.

Making your business accessible

Please note that some of these modifications may require permission from us.

  • Ideally, remove steps and provide a level entry to your premises           
  • If making the entrance level 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 800mm wide minimum to allow for a person with a walking frame, or wheelchair, to pass through with ease.
  • Make sure doormats are secure and level with the surrounding floor   

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 counter

Remove obstacles

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.

Fittings and Furniture

  • Aisles 1.2 m wide allow room for wheelchairs, walkers and prams to turn
  • Aisles need to be kept clear at all times, free of protruding displays
  • Floors should be non-slip and free from trip hazards
  • Think about the best placement of  fittings and fixtures, where they will not compromise independent movement 
  • The counter should have one low section 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
  • Consider your business layout, by leaving items such as products and displays in an unchanged location   
  • Customer waiting areas ideally would have chairs available with and without arm rests
  • Consider using EFTPOS machines with features for customers with vision loss. Albert EFTPOS terminals are virtually impossible to use for blind and vision impaired users as there is no tactile keypad. Wireless EFTPOS or one with a long cord will enhance privacy for those in a wheelchair 

Make the most of customer service

You could incorporate training and information on the importance of disability awareness into staff induction and development.

Make your business communication friendly

  • Focus on the person, not their disability
  • Simply ask in a respectful manner if the customer wants help
  • Ask the customer to repeat something if you do not understand
  • If the customer is using a wheelchair, bend to eye level or pull up a chair
  • Speak in a normal clear voice and  use clear language
  • Speak to the customer directly
  • Ask how you can help with communication
  • Ask one question at a time and allow your customer time to answer before speaking again
  • Ask questions   that need a "yes" "no" or short answer
  • Do not pretend you have understood
  • Ask the customer to point to or show you what they want
  • Have a communication board available from your regional communication service for free
  • National Rely Service is an Australia-wide telephone access service that relays calls

People with hearing loss

  • 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 or turn down any loud background music
  • Find ways to reduce the amount of background noise or to turn down music when necessary
  • Engage in alternative ways to communicate such as whiteboard, pen and paper, ipads and pointing
  • If you are unsure if an assistance dog is accredited you can ask for appropriate certification
  • Never pat or distract an assistance dog or offer it food while it is in a harness. They are trained specifically to know how to behave in public

People with vision loss

  • 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, offer your arm and if they accept ask which side you should be on so they can hold just above your elbow
  • 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 such as 14 point Arial or have staff read information out to customers
  • Look at the possibility of providing information in Braille or consider speech technology menus with a regularly changing menu
  • Ensure your business is has good lighting in all areas, especially around service counters
  • If you are unsure if an assistance dog is accredited you can ask for appropriate certification
  • Never pat or distract an assistance dog or offer it food while it is in a harness. They are trained specifically to know how to behave in public    

Accessible toilets

  • 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).
  • Accessible toilets require easy maneuverability of a wheelchair so this means being free of clutter and stored items
  • If you do not have an accessible toilet, make sure all staff know the location of the nearest accessible toilet

For more information call Yarra City Council on 9205 5555 or email info@yarracity.vic.gov.au.

 * Australian Standards (AS 1428)

Further Contacts

Design ideas and technical requirements

Contact an Access Consultant Association of Consultants

Access Australia Inc.

Yarra's Economic Development

Yarra's Economic Development provides a range of services to all types of businesses within Kingston to foster the development of an innovative, sustainable and prosperous economy. To find out more about the services available in the Economic Development

For more information call Yarra City Council on 9205 5555 or email info@yarracity.vic.gov.au.

Building in Yarra

Planning issues, building approvals and local access requirements contact Building in Yarra

Legal issues and responsibilities

Australian Human Rights Commission

Phone: 1300 369 711 

Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission

Phone: 1300 891 848