These days, thanks to modern technology, many businesses start their lives online. It is a good way of keeping costs down while the business becomes established. As it grows over time the natural move is to have permanent headquarters or a retail outlet that is physical rather than digital.
As online entrepreneurs know one area that is now under UK law is ensuring the website is disabled access friendly. If the site isn’t accessible your business could face legal action and be sued for discrimination. As you move into permanent premises you must also carry over the accessibility and this is an area you can work on right from the moment you get handed the keys.
A Large Task But It Doesn’t Have to be Daunting
Now you may feel a little out of your depth when it comes to improving the accessibility of your new premises. However, just because the task may seem huge it doesn’t mean that you can afford to ignore it or push it to the back of your to do list. By failing to conduct suitable changes to make the property more accessible you leave yourself open to being sued by employees or customers that feel you are discriminating against them.
There is help available out there so don’t go thinking that you need to read the Equality Act inside and out. The experts will be able to give you the information you need based upon your business, the size and location of your premises and be able to use your budget as a guideline to work out what is affordable. If it is impossible to make dramatic changes all at once the expert may be able to help you by establishing what needs to be worked on as a priority, how you can save money, where to source affordable goods, equipment and labour and what could wait a bit longer.
Doing Renovations Before You Move In?
When you undertake any renovations you must consider the disability access. This is why working with an access consultant right from the get go will benefit you greatly. You can hire them for very little money and their services can help you in many different areas. Make sure that you hire a consultant who is more than happy to discuss any necessary work with your architects and designers. This saves time and money by reducing the need to redo work later for additional costs.
You may have to request planning permission and this can be a long and drawn out process. After months of waiting many applicants have their plans turned down, another frustration. Access consultants are able to help you through the planning permission process. Showing that some parts of the design are required to provide a much better service for the community, by allowing improved access, can help to push through successful planning applications. So when you come to looking for a professional expert to help you, ask them whether they would be happy to help you in this area should it be necessary in the future.
Thinking of the Needs of Everyone
As a modern online business you made sure that your website was user friendly. Now as you have grown and decided to open a physical business you must carry those work ethics and legal responsibilities over to your new premises. Use the consultants to conduct an audit and they will be able to help you spot urgent and required improvements that will allow everyone to make use of your services successfully. By doing so you ensure that your doors are open to everyone and you can become a strong player in your community and your industry by refusing to discriminate.
About the Author: Aki Hashimoto is a business consultant and mentor. She has found that using access audits is the simplest way to overcome the legal documentation and start making steps to create improved disability access.