As followers of universal design know, designing with people with disability in mind often results in greater convenience for everyone. That’s why we need businesses to think about inclusive retail experiences and strategies.
The Australian Network on Disability, and Design for Dignity, with support from Lendlease, and the Commonwealth Bank, produced an excellent resource for retail outlet designers. The key is for designers and retail outlets to understand the level of their missed business by ignoring population diversity. Graphs and statistics are used to highlight the lost opportunities.
The missed business point is clearly made: “It is rare in business or design that organisations set out with “minimum standard” customer experience in mind. Designing to minimum accessibility standards is saying that this group of customers doesn’t deserve the same degree of thought, innovation and insight that is invested in other customers.” Complying to Australian Standards does not make for best practice.
Guides for retailers
The guide is aimed at retail business owners, service providers, shopping centre owners and managers, designers, builders and certifiers. There is also a Design for Dignity microsite with the information in a web-based format with more detail.
Readers are reminded that disability is more than wheelchair users. The use of other mobility devices and communication aids is shown in the graph above.
The diversity of the population is often disregarded in designs. Building code compliance is often considered at the end of the design process instead of integrated at the beginning. This guide helps to show the value of thinking inclusively from the outset.
The business of age-friendly
Many businesses would like to expand their customer base to include older people and people with disability, but not sure how to do it. Utilising a checklist is one way to start thinking about it. Several organisations have produced checklists and other information to help businesses understand what they can do. Much of it costs little or nothing. Here are just three.
COTA TAS has a checklist that has a rating scale from excellent to needs work. It covers external environments, shop entrances, safety, comfort, and staff training, and much more. It’s nine pages and easy to read.
AgeUK has a more comprehensive document that provides the reasoning behind some of the “Top Tips’. These include telephone interactions, websites, and resolving complaints. The report is based on consumer workshop consultations.