Did you know that 285 million people in the world live with a visual impairment?
That staggering statistic highlights just how common sight-related problems are, yet despite their prevalence, blindness and visual impairments remain overlooked by many businesses.
As a company-owner, you have a responsibility to ensure your facilities are accessible to all who may want to use them, regardless of their sight restrictions.
Compliance with the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) is vital if you want to be inclusive and avoid fines, but what does this involve?
The Fundamentals of Compliance
The ADA exists to prevent discrimination against individuals affected by any disability, including sight problems. This applies across many aspects of modern life, such as employment, public transportation, commercial facilities and more.
If you operate a small business, Title I and Title III of the ADA will be the most relevant. These cover employment and dealing directly with the public respectively, both of which are extremely important.
The three other Titles should be checked too, but may not apply to your enterprise directly.
Being compliant with ADA typically means you have made reasonable accommodations to aid individuals affected by a disability.
This may include such factors as:
- Providing written policies covering leave related to their disability
- Adjusting operating procedures to suit the blind or visually-impaired person(s)
- Altering existing structures (where viable) to remove obstacles limiting accessibility
- Permitting the presence of animals or devices to aid mobility
This may sound daunting, but you can volunteer to undergo an ADA compliance audit to demonstrate that you’re following the regulations as stipulated. Having an expert assess your property and operations can help minimize the risk of lawsuits or accidents down the line.
Enhancing Web Accessibility
Increasing accessibility shows you’re open to a wide range of people and value the a positive experience for all.
There should be suitable, safe access to your building, space for wheelchairs, a lack of obstacles that may trip visually-impaired individuals and braille signs to aid navigation.
Your website’s accessibility is crucial too. The ADA draws attention to the WCAG 2.1 guidelines on website accessibility, which indicate the different areas in which compliance is most effective.
For example, visitors should be able to navigate a site simply, understand each page’s content and have a satisfying experience overall.
Text-to-speech and screen-readers are fantastic tools for people living with blindness or visual impairments.
Your business website should be optimized to accommodate clear text-reading, helping visitors browse, find exactly what they’re looking for and hear descriptions of visual media.
Again, an audit of your site to identify accessibility weaknesses can make a real difference, reducing the risk of visitors becoming confused and frustrated.
Everyday technology is a powerful aid to boosting accessibility for those affected by blindness or visual impairments. RightHear is a smartphone app incorporating Bluetooth connectivity to help users navigate indoor environments, drawing on beacons located throughout a structure.
This has been installed in over 600 sites across the globe so far, empowering people with sight-related problems to enjoy more independent lives.
Small business can choose RightHear to accommodate their blind and visually-impaired visitors in the most cutting-edge way.
what about your business? – contact us and we will be happy to help you.