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Want to stay on the right side of the law? We support businesses and public authorities and help them to promote good practice.
 
 

Every customer counts

What you need to know

Publications

Useful links

Signees/Case studies

 
Every customer countsAre you open for business... for everyone?

An accessible business is one that is equally open to all potential customers, including the approximately 375,000 people in Northern Ireland who have a disability.

Every business has a legal duty to take reasonable steps to ensure that disabled people can access their services but there are many other reasons why you should stop and consider how accessible your business currently is. These include:
 
  • Enabling customers of all ages and abilities to access your services could widen your customer base.
  • A disabled customer can often quickly become a loyal customer who may also bring their friends and family, meaning repeat business for you.
  • We’re all getting older, the market and need for accessible services and products will continue to grow in the future.

    
The Equality Commission has developed the "Every Customer Counts" initiative to support Northern Ireland traders seeking to promote accessible services.

Our goal is to encourage business men and women to take a moment to use our free self assessment tool and consider how open their services currently are to disabled people.

We are also committed to providing additional support to anyone seeking to make adjustments to their current arrangements.


 


THREE STEPS TO SUCCESS:

1. Policy

 

2. Audit

• Download our self audit tool (editable pdf) to identify any potential service gaps or possible areas for improvement.
 

3. Action

• Read our good practice guides for ideas and handy tips on how to improve your service (pdfs):

Accessible goods and services Accessible Retail Accessible cafes, restaurants and hospitality
Accessible goods
and services

Accessible retail
 

Accessible cafes,
restaurants and hospitality


• Use our action plan template (editable pdf) to prioritise, implement and evaluate any changes you decide to make
• See our list of auxiliary aids and services (pdf) which you may find useful

• You can also contact us to discuss your plans and get additional support and guidance.
 

> Download the complete set of documents for your business/organisation

For convenience download our complete set of documents for your type of business/organization as a zip file:

Retail documents Hospitality documents
 

> Sign up to the 'every customer counts' commitment

 

Turn a small investment into a big profit

Every organisation has duties under the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) to make reasonable adjustments. These are the actions you should take to make your services more accessible to disabled people, relative to the size and circumstance of your business. These include:

  • any provision, criterion or practice (policy)
  • physical feature of premises (building)
  • provision  of auxiliary aids (access supports)

Reasonable adjustments should aim to provide equality in service provision for everyone, with the same level of access, dignity and choice.

Small changes to the way you work, how you present information and your premises can have a big impact on your customer numbers.  Making sure that your staff can provide great customer service to disabled people can often make the biggest difference of all. Well trained staff who are confident serving disabled people could also boost your sales.

Remember it all adds up...

  • 20% of people in NI have a disability (includes hearing, visual and cognitive impairments as well as with physical disabilities)
  • 40% of households in NI include a disabled resident
  • £80 billion pounds is spent by disabled customers in the UK each year
  • Download our fact sheet - 'Why Access Means Business' (pdf)
     
 
 


Public Authorities
The Equality Commission has widened the ‘Every Customer Counts’ initiative to include the public sector. Like the private sector, local councils, health trusts and other public authorities in Northern Ireland must provide their services to everyone including those with disabilities.

Following the ‘three steps to success’ (above) will assist public authorities in complying with duties and requirements covered by the Disability Discrimination Act and Section 75. Read more about good practice in the public sector

 

 

Sign up to our Commitment statement>
< Service providers Disability - what does the law say? >

 
Where to find further help and technical advice:

  • Disability awareness / equality training - The Equality Commission provides information about training, policy development, and disability codes of practice.
  • Disability Action NI - provides a range of services for disabled people, their families and their carers and are a useful source of information on disability issues.
  • Local access groups - There are many around the country and your council may have details about your local group. AdaptNI also has a list of local access groups
  • Professional access audits - For access audit reports and access advice on making reasonable adjustments, a professional registered access auditor is recommended – visit the National Register of Access Consultants


Resources:


Resources from conference (10 March 2016)

 



< Related publications
< Every customer counts
< Disability - what does the law say?
Sign up to our Commitment statement >
 

Signees to the Every Customer Counts initiative include:



Access Exchange
Arts & Disability Forum
Ards Visitor Information Centre & Ards Crafts
Autism Initiatives NI
Belvoir Lettings
BGA Architects
Causeway Coast & Glens Borough Council
Citizens Advice, Ards & North Down
Clive's Country CornerA
Consumer Council NI
Cowzers Pharmacies Ltd
The Dessert Bar, Ballycastle
Early Years - the organization for young children
Fruitfield Service Station

Golf Centre Newcastle
MHD Healthcare Ltd
The Jewel Box
Labour Relations Agency
The Mac
Magee Dental Care
Millenium Forum
NI Libraries
Northern Regional College
NI Assembly
Parks Dental Surgery
Roamer Holistic Health & Beauty Clinic
Royal Ulster Academy
Sharon Malcolm Hairdressing

Sheldon Galleries
Shopmobility Belfast Ltd
Specsavers:

 - Antrim
 - Belfast
 - Belfast Park Centre
 - Larne
 - Newtownards
Standard Utilities Ltd
Swimming Buddies
Titanic Belfast Ltd
Upper Springfield Development Trust
Urban Pharmacy
The Wool Shop, Ards

 

Sign up to our Every Customer Counts commitment


Case Studies

Private Sector

Specsavers, Newtownards


Leigh Nelson, a director of Specsavers, Newtownards, gives her account of steering her branch through the Every Customer Counts process and what it achieved for her business.

The modifications to her business were predominantly to do with how they offer their service, making sure that all staff have the training, the ability and the willingness to engage with all sorts of customers. Physical adaptations were minimal. Read more of watch video >










 
 
 

Knock Travel



Doreen McKenzie, from Knock Travel, Newtownards, explains how they changed their premises to make them more accessible for everyone.

Providing good service and meeting the needs of their customers was vitally important, so they undertook an audit, talked to their customers, delivered training to their staff and put a plan in place. The changes were not difficult and have delivered tangible benefits for both customers and the business.




 
 

Todds Leap



Todds Leap outdoor activity centre offers a range of activities to suit all age groups.

Ben O'Hanlon, explains how they made various adjustments to cater for customers with disabilities. Even small changes can be of great benefit to disabled people. He said, "It's important to put a smile on their face just like everyone else. All customers count, all people count."
 
 

Public Sector

Libraries NI

Libraries NI in partnership with voluntary organisations actively seeks to promote their services to disabled people and thereby increase the number of disabled people using library services. Libraries NI sees this as an important part of ensuring that disabled people can participate in the social, economic and political life of our community and is therefore an important part of being socially integrated.

Outreach initiatives taken by Libraries NI, designed to increase the participation rates of disabled clients include:
 

  • ‘Rhythm and Rhyme’ for children with autism
  • Provision of dementia friendly services
  • Provision of accessible mobile libraries
  • ‘Knit and Natter’ for people with mental ill health
  • Craft activities for people with learning disabilities.

Learn more about NI Libraries' good practice
 

Health and Social Care Sector

Making communication accessible launchThe Health and Social Care sector in Northern Ireland recently launched a new piece of Guidance for staff. The guide 'Making Communication Accessible for All: A Guide for Health & Social Care (HSC)Staff' will assist health sector staff to make sure that people using health services have access to the appropriate communication methods that they need, thus assisting disabled people in accessing services.

Development of the guide was led by the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust in partnership with the Health and Social Care Trusts, the Health and Social Care Board (HSCB), Public Health Agency (PHA), Business Services Organisation, the NI Ambulance Service and partners from the community and voluntary sectors.

Welcoming the development of this valuable guide, Orla Barron, Health and Social Inequalities Manager at Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, said:

“One in 5 people will experience communication difficulties at some point in their lives.  Inclusive communication reduces barriers which are often created through people simply not knowing how to communicate effectively.  This guide aims to give staff practical tips and advice that will establish good practice and mean improved health outcomes for people with communication support needs and the wider community.  Producing the guide with the community and voluntary sector was essential as the partnership working meant that people with expert knowledge and first-hand experience could influence this good practice resource for staff”.

The guidance provides practical advice and support to staff by signposting for example, how to access sign language interpreters. It assists staff to think about the many different ways to effective communication i.e. speaking, writing, sign language, photographs, pictures, symbols, objects, electronic aids, as well as non-verbal communications including facial expressions, body language, sounds and gestures.


Photo caption: pictured at the recent launch at Knockbracken Healthcare Park, Belfast, are users of health and social care services, pictured with reps from Belfast, Southern and South Eastern HSC Trusts, the Equality Commission NI, the RNIB, Mencap, the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority, and the Public Health Agency.
 
 
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