Welcome all customers to your restaurant, cafe or bar with these easy to implement accessibility tips.
Consider your physical space and the ease in which people with children, prams, power chairs, walkers or guide dogs can enter and move around. Aisles need to be wide enough to fit mobility devices, surfaces need to be slip resistant, and ramps and entrances must be open and clear.
Also consider access to the bar, payment counter and accessible toilet if you have one. Is there enough space for wheelchair users and parents with prams to get to these key areas? A queuing system is also a great idea for crowded areas. Finally, ensure you clearly identify accessible toilets and accessible entrances with a sticker or sign so people can easily find their way into your business.
Our key takeaway: Make it easy (and safe) or they may go elsewhere!
As well as making sure your EFTPOS machine is at an appropriate height, check that it beeps loudly so that customers with low vision know they have successfully entered their pin. Finding the slot on EFTPOS machines can also be challenging for some people. If you can see a customer struggling, offer to swipe the card for them.
Make your customers feel welcomed and valued by speaking directly to people with companions, such as those in wheelchairs or older people. It is important to not assume that people can’t speak for themselves. And try to face the customer directly when speaking. Increasingly, more people have limited hearing and need to look at your face and lips as you talk.
Or go a step further and learn some New Zealand sign language! A basic sign such as “hello” or “welcome to my business” will go a long way to help deaf people feel welcomed. This simple gesture is not only fun to learn but can also generate loyal customers. For more information on learning NZSL contact Deaf Aotearoa.
Check your menus, price lists and product information for font size and style. Most people need fonts to be at least 12 point and many prefer text to be even larger. A sans serif font style can be read most comfortably by everyone. Having Braille menus on hand is a great idea too!
If a customer appears to be struggling to read something (such as a price on a blackboard menu) perhaps offer to read it out loud.
Most people do online research and book before they go to a restaurant, café or bar. Your website is often the first impression of your business, but many websites are not user friendly for everyone. Consider your online experience from the perspective of older people, busy parents, and those with access needs. Here are some simple ways to make your site more accessible:
Making bookings and ordering takeaway meals online is becoming increasingly popular and necessary in this post Covid-19 world. Is your booking service accessible for all? Consider those with limited hand function who use a keyboard to navigate, or visually impaired customers who use screen reading technology and magnification tools. It is important to include clear instructions and contact details for anyone who may get stuck.
It's important to provide the opportunity for people to state they have an access need. A hearing-impaired customer may prefer to sit in a quieter area of a bar or restaurant, or someone using a power chair may require more space at a table.
It can be as simple as including a question on your online booking form or asking if they have any special requests when welcoming them into your physical space. By simply asking the question, the customer will feel valued and your staff will have time to meet their needs.
If a request seems complicated or needs specialist knowledge or equipment, contact the Be. Lab team.
Particularly important for the hospitality industry is to consider whether your seating and tables are appropriate for those with access needs. The more comfortable they are, the longer they might stay to enjoy your service and the more frequently they'll come back!
Some key things to think about include:
If potential customers know you are committed to accessibility, they will choose your business over others. Consider including accessible features in your advertising, on your website and around your business. And remember, you don’t have to be perfect! People understand that improving access takes time. The important thing is to be honest. If you don’t have wheelchair access to an accessible toilet for example it’s better to say so as it allows customers to make a plan.
If you really want to show your commitment to being an accessible business, find out more about becoming Be. Lab Accredited.
Go the extra mile and have information available to provide customers on other accessible businesses, and attractions in your local area. And if you do not have an accessible toilet onsite, make sure you know where the nearest public one is located. People with access needs want to have an easy and enjoyable time in your restaurant or bar, so let’s make that happen!