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“Accessibility” is not a dirty word

Author:  Evelina Silveira, President Diversity At Work

What’s the first image that comes to your mind when you here the word “accessibility”?  For many of us, it’s the international symbol of  the wheelchair, but sadly for others it means “more work” and  “more money”.  So why are businesses so behind in getting on the bandwagon?  It certainly isn’t for lack of trying  to get the message out.  Business associations and advocates for persons with disabilities have been out there, trying to educate businesses about their obligations.  Unfortunately, the attendance at these events has been abysmal.

I was surprised to learn that some businesses that do have accessible sites and accomodations do not want to post the accessibility sign on their marketing materials .  Do they not realize that utilizing this symbol brings in more business?  It speaks of a user friendly environment for people with disabilities.  I just don’t get it!

I completely understand  that for small businesses the extra work and the extra costs may seem daunting.  But, listen to this!  A study published by the RBC in 2000, estimated that the buying power of people with disabilities is around $25 billion.  This means that by making your services more accessible you will get more customers.

Sadly, whether we like it or not, if we live long enough we will be disabled in some way.  Creating accessbile businesses and workspaces makes good business sense.  We all end up benefitting.

P.S.  Public service businesses must be in compliance with the customer service standards by  January 1, 2012.

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