Information for landlords, business owners, managers and shop staff
Nearly 800,000 people move around the City of Melbourne (including the CBD) every day. The City itself has a resident population of 23,000 and around 18 per cent of Victorians have a disability. While not all people with disability may experience barriers to accessibility, potentially around 140,000 daily visitors and 4,000 city residents could benefit from a fully accessible environment. Other local council areas similarly have large populations of people with disabilities. A fully accessible environment is one where all consumers can easily access premises, goods and services.
Inaccessibility has a negative effect upon businesses and the economy when customers who could be accessing goods and services, may not do so if faced with accessibility barriers, be they physical, communicational or attitudinal.
Quality service is one of the most important things you can offer your customers. Providing access to your shop or building, and services, is the cornerstone of ‘good business’. If your business is not accessible, people may avoid using it and tell others about their experiences.
Not providing access to your premises and services may be unlawful under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (Vic) and the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth).
The Commission's consultations
In 2013, the Commission met with local businesses in the Melbourne Central Business District (CBD) to hear about their experiences providing services to customers with disabilities. We found varying levels of understanding among businesses and staff about accessibility, customers’ communication needs and about how customer service for people with disabilities, older people, parents or carers could be improved. We also found that the physical accessibility of each premises varied.
Some businesses had already made adjustments to support people with disabilities. This included providing a fully accessible entry, tactile markings, installing portable ramps and accessible fitting rooms.
Other businesses were not accessible. In these situations our discussions focused on what prevents businesses making changes. Businesses also discussed how they attempted to overcome barriers in other ways, such as through customer service and communication.
Our consultations revealed a number of barriers to providing an accessible environment including: cost, lack of legal and practical information and difficulties around control and ownership. Some staff and managers believed that accessibility should be addressed by their landlord or building owner.
In response, the Commission developed a self-assessment tool (see What do I need to do? section) which can be used by businesses to help them identify areas in their business where accessibility can be improved. The Commission also developed fact sheets on accessibility for business owners and service staff.
For more information about this project please contact us at [email protected].