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Accessibility for all

Did you know that about 20 per cent of Victorians have a disability? On the Peninsula this number is closer to 25 per cent due to our older population – that’s around 42,500 residents. So if your premises are not accessible, you may be missing out on a significant number of potential customers. 

Under the Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act 1992, your business is legally obliged to ensure ease of access for people of all abilities. But making sure your business is easily accessible to staff and customers has flow on benefits far beyond things like wheelchair access. 

The global market of people with disabilities is over 1 billion people with a spending power of more than $6 trillion. A study by Monash University, commissioned by the City of Melbourne, found a 20 to 25% increase in turnover for universally accessible retail premises compared to non-accessible premises.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in 2018 around 1 in 6 people in Australia – about 4.4 million – had a disability. That equates to 1.2 million Victorians – and they all have friends, family and carers who they shop, explore and travel with. People with a disability are also more likely to be repeat customers so it’s not a sector that businesses can afford to ignore.

Frequently asked questions

Providing an accessible premises simply means that there are no physical or social barriers to prevent customers from finding your business, moving around your business easily and receiving good service while they are there. When you cater to the diverse needs of our community you will not only include people with disabilities, but also parents with prams, older people, those experiencing temporary disability from injury, people who’s first language is not English – and their friends and families.

Good access allows everyone to:

  • Find your business digitally and physically
  • Move around safely outside and inside
  • Find and pay for goods and services
  • Get assistance if required
  • Feel welcome

It’s all part of providing a quality customer service experience that has benefits for all of your customers. Improving accessibility means that everyone’s a winner.

There are some good resources to help you and your staff understand accessibility, and explain why being digitally accessible makes good business sense.

Becoming more accessible doesn’t have to involve major infrastructure changes or huge expense. It just takes a little thinking and empathy. Minor changes such as the layout of the furniture, the font size on a menu, or basic staff training can make a big difference.

Having ramps and wide pathways around tables is not only great for wheelchairs  but also those with prams. Making sure your counter is easily identifiable makes it easy for those with low vision, but also for those customers in a hurry. Making sure that your business is accessible is simply good business sense!

    • Provide and design for a range of abilities

    • Train customer service staff  to support customers

    • Provide equipment that is easy to use, and to reach

    • Provide signage that is clear and easy to understand

    • Ensure your business is free from trip hazard and obstacles

    • Ensure people can move around easily, regardless of the equipment they use

    • Provide wheelchair access to all customer areas. Consider portable ramps for front entrances

    • Have customer access to a wheelchair accessible toilet – or know where the closest one is located

    • Provide services and facilities for customers with a vision or hearing impairment

    • Train service staff in access and inclusion

Door stickers, signs, badges, flags and more are ways to show that your business welcomes disabled people.

The International Symbol of Access (also known as the Wheelchair symbol) indicates areas where access has been improved, mostly for those with disabilities and limited mobility, including wheelchair users. For example, the symbol is used to indicate an accessible entrance, bathroom or that a phone is lowered for wheelchair users. Remember that a ramped entrance is not complete access if there are no curb cuts or accessible elevator.

Show your support for people with Hidden Disabilities, by purchasing a Hidden Disabilities Sunflower. The memberships price starts from $500 each, however merchandise promoting inclusion can be worn by your staff members, with prices ranging from $6-$20 per item.

Find out more information on how to become an affiliate to participate in the Companion Card Program.

Guide dogs are allowed in any public place, as well as in any store or shop, including supermarkets and food stores. Access the Guide Dogs Website to learn more about where guide dogs are permitted within the community.

For food businesses, offering great Access and Inclusion is a foundation pillar of the award-winning Best Bites program. The Shire’s Disability Community Inclusion Officer has prepared a short informative video for food businesses and community groups that serve food. Share it with your staff as a training exercise, or include it in your staff handbook. 

Other resources to help your business

Is your business a place where everyone feels welcome? Use these resources to inform and guide simple ways to address accessibility and inclusivity in your workplace.

Content updated March 2024

Accessibility and Inclusion
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Frequently asked questions

We’ve compiled a list of common enquiries along with some helpful information and solutions.

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