Disability Discrimination Act – Access To Goods And Services

Making Access to Goods and Services Easier for Disabled Customers: A Practical Guide for Small Businesses and Other Service Providers

Finding the way around

How easily would disabled customers – particularly those with visual impairments or learning disabilities – orientate themselves in your premises, be able to locate goods or service points they want to find, and move around safely? Bear in mind that logically planned and well lit premises – with good, clear signs and use of colour contrast in internal decoration – are likely to benefit all customers.

Practical suggestions:

  • Making signs easier to read: could you use more signs or use them more effectively in your premises? Signs that work best are:
    • simple and short
    • easily read and understood with clear typefaces in a mixture of upper and lower case
    • well contrasted with background (i.e. with strong contrast of light and dark between lettering and background)
    • supplemented by visual / pictorial symbols.

Signs with glass in front of them can be hard to read because of light reflection, and lettering applied directly onto glass can be difficult to read depending on what is beyond the glass. Ensure that new signs integrate with the existing signs and that signs are replaced correctly after being removed for redecoration.

  • Using different colours effectively: colour can be used creatively to help some customers with visual impairments who may see “blocks” of colour more easily than identify detail. Compared to a monotone colour scheme, they will find it easier to move around independently if floors, walls, ceilings and doors are distinguished from each other using contrasting colours or light and dark tones of the same colour. A practical tip for assessing colour contrast is to take a black-and-white photograph and see how easy it is to distinguish between different coloured surfaces.
  • Offering staff assistance: it is not always possible to create the physical conditions in which customers with different disabilities can move easily and safely around the premises independently and gain access to goods and services. In such cases, could you ensure that staff assistance is provided, for example to escort a blind person around a shop or to a safe place where goods can be brought to them? Information about how best to meet the needs of customers with visual impairments is available from organisations concerned with access or visual impairment (see Organisations).
  • Glazed panels: people with impaired vision may not recognise glazed panels or internal glass walls and bump into them. Could you add conspicuous safety markings half way up?
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