Be an accessible business
Running a retail business is not just about opening your doors and achieving the bottom line. It's also about delivering a great customer experience.
These guidelines highlight a range of barriers that impact customers in the retail space and can prevent them from doing business with you.
By taking a moment to understand how people access your business, you can make small changes to your layout, signage and amenities to ensure your business is accessible to everyone.
- Provide and design for a range of abilities
- Customer service staff are trained and ready to support
- Equipment is easy to use and reach
- Signage is clear and easy to understand
- Business premises are free from trip hazards or obstacles
- People can move around easily
- People who are blind or low vision
- People with learning or intellectual disability
- People who are deaf or heard of hearing
- People with physical disability, which can include a wheelchair or walking frame
- People who have arthritis or have reduced hand mobility
- Aged and frail customers
- Parents or carers of young children, particularly those with strollers or prams
- People experiencing a long-term illness
- People with mental health or psychological difficulties
- People with an acquired brain injury
Your legal responsibilities
In Australia, it is legislated that customers with disability should be able to access your goods or services just like any other customer.
If a customer with disability cannot enter your building or access your goods or services, they are in their rights to make a complaint of discrimination under State anti-discrimination laws, as per the Federal Disability Discrimination Act.
Making your business more accessible will make it safer for your customers and staff. It may also reduce your public liability and workplace safety exposure. For more information on your legal obligations, visit Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission.
How to improve access to your business
Your business will not be able to implement everything, but making some of these changes can help ensure your doors are open for everyone.
A welcoming and easy entrance
- Provide an open entrance that is easy to move through with wide doorways throughout
- Eliminate steps or reposition difficult entrances
- Install a ramp with a handrail if possible
- Use automatic or light weighted doors with handles that aren't too high
- Consider installing glass doors for clear lines of sight that will make it easier to see when someone needs help
- Provide a non-slip entry and secure doormats
- Install a doorbell for those who cannot access your premises easily
- Choose colours that stand out
- Clearly sign your entrances and exits
Make browsing, eating, paying and moving around easy
- Use easy-to-read signs and large print menus and pricing – if you're a hospitality business, consider offering menus in braille or electronic formats
- Use strong lighting, especially around service counters
- Avoid trip hazards
- Have fixed displays
- Have open aisles which are at least 1.2 m wide
- Have a mobile EFTPOS machine with larger tactile keys
- Keep background noise or music to a minimum
- Consider installing hearing assistance technology
- Have at least one counter at a height for people in wheelchairs (750 to 800 mm from floor level)
- Position popular products within reach of those using a wheelchair – if this is not possible, make sure staff are trained to offer help
- Consider waiting or resting chairs
- Use non-slip surfaces
- Ensure change rooms are accessible
Accessible toilets should be provided where possible. If you decide to make your toilet accessible, seek technical advice on how to do so. For advice, contact Council.
If you do not have an accessible toilet, ensure all staff know the location of the nearest accessible toilet. If necessary, seek approval for your customers to use it.
Train staff on communicating with a variety of customers with various needs and how to give practical help.
This might include:
- allowing customers to place orders online or over the phone
- providing home deliveries or home visits
- meeting your customer in an alternative, accessible location either by appointment or regularly
- setting up customer profiles so your staff know about the preferences of your customers
- letting people know that your business is accessible by making it a focus of your social media and marketing.
Treat customers with disability with respect.
- Always focus on the person, not on the disability. Address customers directly, not the people who may be with them.
- Ask the customer if they need help before stepping in to help.
- Consider positioning yourself to be eye-to-eye with a customer using a wheelchair if you're having a conversation by bending or sitting down.
- Ask questions about how the customer would like goods and services to be provided.
- Address the customer clearly and directly and check for understanding.
- Allow time for customer service and give your customer time to ask questions. Try not to rush the customer.
- Be concise and try not to overload people with information. Reassure the customer that you are there to help if they need additional support.
- Help people who lip read by always facing the customer and avoid standing with bright lights behind you if possible.
- For customers with interpreters, address the customer rather than the interpreter.
- Have a pen and paper handy to help with communication if required.
- Avoid the word disabled in signs and communication. Use accessible to describe the support for all customers.
Always refer to:
- a person with disability rather than a disabled person
- a person who uses a wheelchair rather than someone confined or in one
- a person who is blind rather than a person who suffers blindness.
Vision impaired customers
- Identify yourself by name. If appropriate, ask your customer for their name so they know you are talking to them and not someone else.
- If a customer asks for help to go somewhere, ask which side you should be on and offer your arm so they can hold just above your elbow.
- Assistance dogs are permitted in your business – never pat or distract an assistance dog or offer it food while in a harness.
There are many services in the City of Stonnington for people with disability or if you are seeking to make your business more accessible.
Community transport service
A safe, accessible and friendly community bus service is available to eligible residents in Stonnington who may find accessing public or private transport difficult.
To ensure your communications are in easy-to-read English, visit or contact Scope.
Job Access is a national hub for workplace and employment information for people with a disability and employers.
Planning and building
If you're planning modifications to your premises to improve accessibility, Council is here to provide advice on the required process and standards. Find out more about planning and building.
To help ensure your printed materials are accessible to everyone, visit or contact Vision Australia.
The Access Institute offers support and training on incorporating universal design.
For all other issues, contact our customer service team.
TTY users can call National Relay Service on 1800 555 630.
Speak and listen users call 1800 555 660 Monday to Friday, 8 am to 6 pm AEST (closed on national public holidays).