Category Archives: Disability Friendly Business

ADA Service Animal Law Workshop

ADA Service Animal Law, Stay out of the Doghouse, Workshop

ADA Service Animal Law Workshop

All businesses must allow Service Dogs. It’s the Law.

Know ADA Service Animal Law.  ADA Service Animals are allowed in businesses.  The only place an ADA Service Dog may be denied access is in certain medical clean room environments.  Every day we hear news stories of business owners believing that they have the right to question and deny access to their facility to people with service dogs as a “property right.”

We created our “ADA Service Animal Law, Stay out of the Doghouse, Workshop”  to dispel the myths.

There are many myths about training certifications, Dog I.D.’s, therapy snakes, and service parrots.

We hear the term PTSD thrown around in the media and many have misconceptions of how this disease, defined by a group of symptoms, impacts the ability for many people to interact in social settings the same way they did before they experienced a  life-changing trauma.

When hospitality and restaurant employees deny people access with their service dog, it not only breaks judicial law and carries a steep fine, but it also negatively impacts the person.

  • How to dispel the myths and focus on the ADA Service Animal facts.
  • We provide customer service tools for successful interactions with Service Dog users and how to turn them into loyal customers.
  • Know the only two questions that a business may legally ask a person with an ADA Service Animal.
  • Know the  legal  difference and rights between ADA Service Dogs and Emotional Support Animals.
  • Understanding PTSD: The Role of a PTSD Service Dog and the LAW.
  • Review all of the symptoms of PTSD and how they impact  may impact a person’s daily life.
  • With the right tools, a business can engage consumers with service dogs, increase their bottom line and avoid costly judicial discrimination lawsuits.
  •  A Service Dog is available as a trainer at this workshop..

This is an excellent ADA training workshop for Owners, Key Staff, Facilities Managers, Risk Managers and Operations Managers.

We are now scheduling for our 2017 Architectural Barriers ADA WorkshopsPlease contact us to review your event requirements.  Please review our page Speaker and Workshop Fees for information on the different types of speaking engagements offered and a list of bonus items for meeting planners.  All of our topics may be customized for your individual event. Speaker and Workshop Fees


Disability Customer Service Workshop

Disability Customer Service Workshop, Increase Your Bottom Line By Engaging ALL Ability Consumers.

Disability Customer Service Workshop

Great disability customer service is essential for ALL businesses.  Our Disability Customer Service Workshop is geared to all service provider, with the objective of increasing customer satisfaction and avoiding situations that lead to ADA discrimination litigation.

The most common words I hear from Clients during ADA Compliance inspections is “we never see people with wheelchairs at our business.”  That is because only 5% of the disabled population are wheelchair users. 20% of Americans have a disability.  That number is much higher in Florida between an aging population and tourism.

We never know about a persons physical and mental abilities or disabilities just by looking at them.  Excellent customer service for everyone is key to a successful business.

Disability Customer Service Workshop LEARNING POINTS

  • 69.6 billion people in America,  28.7% of families have at least one member with a disability.
  • People with disabilities constitute our nation’s largest minority group,
  • How great disability customer service engages  and retains consumers who live with different types of disabilities.
  • Discuss communications skills, customer service, disability etiquette and how to avoid unintentional discrimination. 
  • Dispel assumptions about the aging baby Boomer population.
  • Practice different situations and discuss different ethical questions,.
  • Common situations that lead to ADA accessibility discrimination litigation.
  • How the built environment impacts different disabilities.
  • Discuss range of motion and sensory impact o the built environment.
  • Communication skills when engaging a customer we believe has a disability.
  • How  ADA ramps, parking, restrooms, signage, and other architectural tools impact different disabilities.
  • Proper etiquette for Service Dogs.

This is an excellent ADA training workshop for Owners, Key Staff, Facilities Managers, Risk Managers and Operations Managers.

We are now scheduling for our 2017 Architectural Barriers ADA WorkshopsPlease contact us to review your event requirements.  Please review our page Speaker and Workshop Fees for information on the different types of speaking engagements offered and a list of bonus items for meeting planners.  All of our topics may be customized for your individual event.

Disability Customer Service Workshop
Disability Customer Service Workshop


Disabled Customers: Country

Disabled Customers Find Great Service in the Country

Nothing beats a country store that believes in old fashioned southern hospitality to graciously meet the needs of their disabled customers.

We’ve been driving out to A.W. Peterson Gun Store and Museum for a few  decades for repairs and fresh air.  Hunters, outdoor men, law enforcement, veterans, cowboys, and collectors have been going to this small country business for generations.  Mr. Baker opened the 118-year-old business in Mount Dora in 1953.  We were told that parts of the old pecky cypress building are from the 1890s.

Disabled customers appreciate a ramp and friendly service. A welcoming front porch for ALL. Disability Smart Solutions.
Disabled customers appreciate a ramp and friendly service. A welcoming front porch for ALL. Disability Smart Solutions.

While the handicap ramp and sand parking lot might not meet the current code, it is sturdy and meets the needs of most disabled customers.  Inside the store, the well-worn wooden floors are smooth and the aisles are all wide enough for disabled customers to easily maneuver a wheelchair or scooter.  It’s been a few years since my last visit, but this time, I noticed that the aisles are now clear of any protrusions, making it comfortable for disabled customers with limited visibility.

The store is a comfortable place to shop or just to just  check out all of the old hunting trophies and vintage collectibles.  I always appreciate a store with plenty of places to sit.  Many times disabled customers might want to sit for a few minutes and relax before continuing shopping.  We often forget how many people living with a disability have limited stamina or muscle strength.

Bella, an Australian Kelpie who is a Deaf Alert Service dog, chilling in the grass. Disability Smart Solutions
Bella, an Australian Kelpie who is a Deaf Alert Service dog, chilling in the grass

I took advantage of the porch chairs to work on “sit” training with our service dog, Bella.  She was our daughters Deaf Alert dog.  Since our daughter has been in boarding school for the past 3 years, Bella has become a lazy pet.  We spent 20 minutes sitting on the porch without her moving to acknowledge people who walked in and out of the store.  She remembered.  Disabled customers with service dogs are welcome in Peterson’s.  I brought in Bella, without a vest, and all I heard was “what a pretty dog.”

The best part about A.W. Peterson’s gunsmith, is that he is honest and if he can fix it while you wait, he will.  My husband brought a jammed French collectible firearm to a Big Box sports store in Lake Mary.  After a two week wait, he was charged $69.00 and told that they couldn’t fix the problem.  The gunsmith at Petersons, spent some time examining it and discovered that there was old lint compacted in the barrel.  He charged $30 and spent  less than 30 minutes making the repair.  Nothing beats a great customer service experience, except a great customer service experience with a trip to the country.


Disability Smart Solutions is full-service ADA Consulting firm offering ADA Compliance Access Surveys, Project Consultation, Post-Compliance Audits, All-Ability Customer Service Training, Undercover Disabled Guest Mystery Shopping, Universal Design Product Review and Keynote Speaking.  Please contact us to review your accessibility needs.

Healing, Hydroponics and the Homeless, Accessible Garden

Healing, Hydroponics and the Homeless, Accessible Garden

Tom and I toured the Lighthouse Mission in Lakeland, Florida with the Central Florida Lady Bloggers.  Knowing that many of the homeless have disabilities, I was interested in seeing how they addressed accessibility at their facility.  Every 2010 ADA Code accessibility detail was taken into consideration in both their men’s and women’s facilities.

Our hosts always graciously asked if anyone would prefer to use the elevator, whenever we walked towards the stairs during our tour.

Accessible ramps mean that everyone is welcome
This is what an ADA compliant ramp looks like. Lighthouse in Lakeland makes sure that everyone is comfortable in their facilities.
Compliant stair handrail
This 12″ extension on a stair handrail makes all of the difference in balance.

We learned how Lighthouse Ministries takes a holistic approach to serving the homeless and community.  They provide “Success Sheltering,” which includes educational and vocational development for residents to discover a pathway of success in a safe living environment.  Everyone who lives on the campus is given an opportunity to experience peace, life purpose and fulfillment of potential.

Success Sheltering includes nutritious meals, safe shelter, clothing, personal financial management,  addiction recovery,  case management, childcare,  transportation,  domestic violence safe haven, adult education, dorm life for college & vocational training, employment, career advancement, leadership training, life skills, life coaching, discipleship, mentoring, responsible living and serving others.

We were fascinated with the 7000 square foot urban hydroponic garden that provides fresh herbs, fruits, and vegetables to the shelter. Male residents re-enter the workforce by starting in the garden.  They find it a peaceful work experience that helps them to recover from the streets.  It gives them a calm place to contemplate and see the results of their effort.

The garden is accessible, with wide smooth pathways and plants that can easily be reached from a seated position.

Accessible Garden
Healing begins in the garden. Homeless men work in the garden providing fresh fruits and vegetables for guests eating at the Lighthouse Ministries shelter.

As a special treat, Lighthouse Ministries gave each of us a gift certificate to use in one of their retail Stores.  Their seven Thrift Stores provide clothing for their guests and household goods for their graduates.   Along with providing capital for funding programs, the Thrift Stores provide employment for program residents and a place for outreach to the community that includes the distribution of food boxes and clothing vouchers.

We visited two of the Lakeland, Florida retail stores.  They were both located in old buildings circa the 1930’s.  Employees graciously pointed out the side entry ramp to the furniture section, which was an old side street storefront.   This building is several old storefronts with different levels, an old warehouse, and a loading dock.  We entered from the furniture store section.  There were a few wide steps up from this section to the clothing and households area, located in the old storefronts that faced the main highway.  Several employees offered to escort us to the front accessible entry if we found the steps uncomfortable.  None of them ever mentioned that we might not be able to climb the stairs.  They all graciously mentioned how the steps were sometimes uncomfortable for them and offered an alternative.   We did not look at the restrooms, assuming that upgrading them for accessibility might be a hardship.

We were happy to learn that their staff is trained in Disabled Customer Service.  

We were also happy to learn that in their new facilities and in their older historical buildings, every reasonable effort was made for accessibility compliance.

Lighthouse Ministries knows the importance of including all people. Disability Smart Solutions is available to assist your business with overcoming architectural barriers and attitude barriers to accessibility.

Disability Smart Solutions is full-service ADA Consulting firm offering ADA Compliance Access Surveys, Project Consultation, Post-Compliance Audits, All-Ability Customer Service Training, Undercover Disabled Guest Mystery Shopping, Universal Design Product Review and Keynote Speaking.  Please contact us to review your accessibility needs.


I was thrilled to find new earings at a very low price.  Seven pairs  is not hoarding!  Tom bought a set of Italian ceramic pasta bowls. There were some very nice pieces of furniture, including an antique needlepoint child’s rocking chair.  As much as I wanted it,  we figured that it was best to leave the chair for someone with a child.  The Florida Summer afternoon thunderstorms also discouraged buying furniture, but we’ll be back!

Lighthouse Ministries Thrift Store
Swag from the Lighthouse Ministries gift store. Gracious staff, wide aisles, clean items, great prices and accessible; what more can a girl ask for?

Disability Smart Solutions, extends a HUGE thank you to Megan of More than A Coupon Queen, the event organizer.  Please visit her blog for the latest information on Florida Fun, Homeschooling,  Money Saving and Internet Deals.

Disability Courtesy, 40 Tips

Disability etiquette or disability courtesy are just plain  good manners!

Customer service
Serve your customers well and they will serve you!

Disability etiquette, disability courtesy and just plain old good manners are the same thing!

 Many people think that there are special rules, so they avoid interacting with people with disabilities because of their own awkward feelings.

Disability courtesy is not a set of secret rules.   A great rule of thumb is, if you would politely say it to your granny, it’s OK.  Polite is polite.

Quick list of specific disability courtesy tips.

Courtesy Tips for Interactions with Anyone


  1. Always speak directly to a person who has a disability, rather than trough a companion who might be with them.
  2. Always ask first before helping someone with a disability.
    • Some people will appreciate that you asked, others might be offended.
    • Listen to any instructions before you act.
  3. Always remember to offer to shake hands.
    • Wait for them to extend a hand first or let them offer another option.  Be gentle.  we never know someone’s level of hidden physical pain or limited mobility.
  4. Be patient! Let the person set the pace in walking or talking.
    • Be considerate of any extra time it might take for the person who has a disability to get things done.
  5. Relax!  Don’t feel embarrassed if you happen to say a common expression like “I’ll see you later” or “I’ve got to run.”  Those are normal parts of speech.
  6. Don’t patronize!
  7. When planning an event involving persons with disabilities, consider their needs ahead of time.
    • If there is an insurmountable barrier, let them know prior to the event.
    • For example, “Uncle Bob, the steps to the top of the hill where Kitty and Bobby are getting married are pretty steep. We are going to set up a video feed where, if you like,  you may watch the wedding in the air conditioned reception building.”

Courtesy Tips  for Interacting with Wheelchair Users

  1. Someone using a wheelchair is not “wheelchair bound.”  The wheelchair is a mobility device.  Different people have different levels of mobility.
  2. Leaning on a person’s wheelchair is like leaning on a person.  A wheelchair is an extension of personal space.    Respect it!
  3. Treat adults like adults.
  4. Don’t patronize someone by patting them on the head. They are not a dog!
  5. You wouldn’t grab someone’s leg without asking, so don’t touch someone’s wheelchair without first asking and receiving permission.
  6. After a few minutes of conversation, put yourself on the same level as a person in a wheelchair.  It will spare both of your from a stiff neck!
    • You won’t stand while holding a long conversation with someone seated, so think of it the same way when you are speaking to someone seated in a wheelchair.
  7. When giving directions to someone using a wheelchair, think ahead of the shortest path and any obstacles that might be in their way.
    • “I believe the park restrooms are about 200 yards ahead and they you will  to turn left for about 100 feet to reach the ramp on the right side of the restroom building.  I believe that there are steps to the left.”

Courtesy Tips for Interacting with People Who are Vision Impaired

  1.  Always identify yourself when speaking with a person with a vision impairment.
    • Example:  “Hi Bob, it’s Lola.”
  2. Always identify who you are with.
    • Example:   “Hi Bob, I have my son Bubba with me to my right, Aunt Hilda is to my left with her poodle Sweetie Pie.”
  3. When speaking in a group, always mention the person’s name when speaking directly to them.
    • Example:  “Bob, are you joining us on the balcony?”
  4. Always let the person with a vision impairment know when you are leaving the room.
    • Example:  “Bob, I am heading to the kitchen, can I bring you a glass of tea?”
  5. Always let the person with a vision impairment know when the conversation is over.
    • Example: “Bob, it was great talking with you, I need to leave now.  Is there anything else you need from me? “
  6. Always speak in a normal tone and volume. People do not hear with their eyes!
  7. Offer a person with vision impairment your arm.  Talk about where you are going.
    • Example: “We have 2 steps down about five feet ahead” or “this sidewalk sure has a lot of cracks.”
    • Do not propel or lead them.  Just gently be their guide.
  8. When giving directions to a person who has a visual impairment, use distances and describe the path.
    1. Example: ” The hot dog cart is 200 yards directly ahead on the right.  There sure are a lot of kids riding their bikes on the sidewalk today.”

Courtesy Tips for Interacting with People Who are  Hearing Impaired

  1. It’s OK to gently tap a person with a hearing impairment to get their attention.
  2. Do not startle someone by tapping them from behind.
  3. It’s OK to wave your hand to get a person with a hearing impairments attention.
  4. Never ask “do you read lips?”
  5. When speaking, look directly at a person who has a hearing disability.
  6. The average person reading lips will only understand about 25 percent of the conversation.  Follow-up with e-mail, when possible.
  7. If you have a friend, family member or co-worker who used American Sign Language, consider learning some basic sign language.
  8. Speak slowly (at a normal pace), clearly and expressively to determine if the person reads lips.  Many hearing impaired people have some level of hearing.  Sometimes hearing loss may affect they way they hear volume, certain letters, tones of sound or pitches of sound.
  9. Not everyone with hearing loss reads lips. They might rely on your expressions and your body language to understand the tone or direction of the conversation.
  10. Don’t shout!  It just makes you look crazy!
  11. Ask the person if they would like you to write down what you are saying.   Write clearly.
  12. Be considerate by facing a light source.  No one can read lips in the dark!
  13. If you are dining, keep food and drinks away from your mouth when you are speaking.
  14. Keep your mustaches well-trimmed, if you need to speak with a person with a hearing impairment.

Courtesy Tips for Communicating With People Who have a Speech Impairment

  1. Give  your whole, unhurried attention when speaking with someone who has a speech impairment or difficulty speaking.
  2. Keep your manner calm and encouraging rather than correcting.
  3. Be patient!  Do not speak for the person.
  4. It’s OK to clarify what the person said by asking a question they can answer with a simple nod of the head.
    • Example: “Oscar, you would like a  large glass of orange juice.  Is that right?”
  5. Never pretend to understand.  Always ask.  Repeat what you understand.
    •  Example: “Oscar, do you want to go to the store now or later this afternoon?”  The person’s reaction will guide you.

Common courtesy goes a long way when speaking with anyone.  Disability courtesy is simply treating people the way that you would want to be treated.  Remember that your body language, tone, facial expressions, hand and arm motions are all observed.  People know the difference between polite and rude! It’s important to remember that a person with a special need is a person first.   Communicate with them as you would communicate with anyone else.  If you are unsure what to do, simply ask them. Disability Smart Solutions knows that fixing buildings and public spaces to meet the everyday challenges of people living with a disability is simply meeting ADA Code and spending the money to make the improvements.  We know that lives are changed when people learn how to extend courtesy to people with disability. Disability Smart Solutions offers employee training programs that teach Disability Etiquette.  Great customer service is the heart of a business. We also have speakers available for schools and community groups.

We are team builders. Disability Smart Solutions has the knowledge, innovation, imagination and collaborative partners to create successful inclusive solutions. Please contact us to enhance your employee and customer engagement with both the aging and disabled populations.


Disability Smart Solutions for Your Business: ADA Inspection and Accessibility Surveys

  1. Inspect your building for ADA violations
  2. Recommend the changes that need to be made
  3. Recommend how to make the changes
  4. Review the completed changes to make sure that they are completed correctly
  5. Enhance the customer experience
  6. Train your key people
  7. Limit your exposure to ADA lawsuits



100 Business Tips to Drive Disabled Consumer Loyalty

Drive Disabled Customer Loyalty By Serving Their Needs

Age-In_Place in your own home.With sales projections showing that 70% of all sales will be conducted online, disabled consumer loyalty is more important than ever before.  The senior 50+ and disabled market segments have tremendous spending power.  People don’t leave their homes just to buy a product.  They go to businesses to enjoy the experience.

At the beginning of the 21st century, those aged 65 or over made up five per cent of the population, in 20 years’ time, this proportion will rise to around 18 million, according to the Office of National Statistics.

Across the globe the number of those aged over 60 will nearly triple by 2050, rising to 2.4 billion, up from 894 million in 2010.

Even though the ADA,  Americans With Disabilities Act as the law for all business facilities, there are many other little things that can be done to increase the customer experience.  Happy customers tell their friends.  Unhappy customers post negative on-line reviews and don’t return.

As business people, we all know that it is harder to get a new customer off the street than it is to make your customer a repeat customer.  A disability-friendly business is a profitable business!

If a senior or disabled customer feels welcome, they will stay longer, spend more, and are more likely to become a repeat customer.

Do you know that less than 5% of disabled consumers use a wheel on a regular basis?

  • You cannot always tell just by looking at a person if they have a disability.

    See for Wheelchair travel tips.
    See for Wheelchair travel tips.
  • Customers with limited mobility, heart conditions, lung conditions and other medical conditions appreciate the use of a motorized shopping cart.
  • A comfortable shopping experience increases the time spent in your store and ultimately increases total sales.
Do you know that the combination of bad in-store customer service experiences and the ease of accessible websites for on-line shopping, an increasing number of senior and disabled consumers are spending their money from home?
  • People enjoy a friendly retail experience.  Shopping is not about products.  It’s about finding a solution and feeling good.  A disability friendly retail business will gain market share.

Customer Service Tips for Disabled and Senior Customers


  1. Speak directly to each customer and make eye contact.
  2. You rarely know who is living with a disability just by looking at them.  Many disabilities are invisible.
  3. Only 5% of the disabled population use a wheelchair on a regular basis.
  4. If a guest walks in and then uses the electronic cart, don’t judge them.  Heart conditions and many other conditions cause fatigue.
  5. A comfortable customer will shop longer and spend more.
  6. Disabled Consumers love to shop locally.
  7. Don’t per-judge.
  8. Not every disability is visible, nor is every disability as severe as it might appear.
  9. It’s OK to ask “Is there anything we can do to make your shopping  more convenient?”
  10. Offer specialized help to any customer who asks.
  11. No matter how minor the request, make sure your employees are aware that some requests are unusual.

    Wheelchair photo courtesy of travel blog.
    Wheelchair photo courtesy of travel blog.
  12. If a disabled customer makes an unusual request, as long as the request is safe for everyone,  politely fulfill it.
  13. Always ask first before automatically helping a disabled customer.
  14. Strive for positive feedback from your disabled customers.
  15. Staff should be alert and helpful to all customers.
  16. Train staff to understand the importance of treating all customers with the same amount of respect and courtesy.
  17. If a member of staff knows sign language, let the rest of the staff know.
  18. Train employees to speak directly to a hearing-impaired person, not to their companion. They should speak clearly, not loudly.
  19. Train employees to speak directly to any disabled customer, not to their companion.
  20. Offer disability awareness training to staff.
  21. Encourage persons with disabilities to work at your business
  22. When interviewing persons with disabilities, focus on the candidate’s skills and abilities, not the disability.
  23. Are policies, practices, and procedures flexible enough that, if necessary, modifications can be made to ensure that the skills and abilities of applicants with disabilities are equally represented?
  24. Know American Disabilities Act Employment Laws.


  1. Allowing service dogs is the LAW.

    Service Dog photo courtesy of
    Service Dog photo courtesy of
  2. Know which questions you may ask a person with a service dog.
  3. Always ask permission before petting service dogs.
  4. Always ask permission to offer a treat to the service dog.
  5. Always ask permission to offer the dog a bowl of water.
  6. Always let the Guest know where the dog can relieve itself.
  7. Provide a grassy area near the business entry for service dog relief.
  8. Provide plastic bags and waste disposal.
  9. It is illegal to question the disabled customer on the type of service dog.
  10. It is illegal to request seeing the service dog certification.
  11. You may only ask if the dog is a service dog and what service the dog performs.
  12. If a disabled consumer has a service dog with them, they need the dog.
  13. The only animals covered in ADA Law for Places of Accommodation are dogs and miniature  horses.  There are other guidelines for housing. (Fair Housing Act.)
  14. Many toy breed dogs are used as seizure and PTSD dogs.  You can’t judge a service dog by its breed.
  15. Don’t judge. Remember there are many hidden disabilities.
  16. As a business, you have the right to expect the service dog handler to control their service dogs behavior.


  1. Install flashing smoke and fire alarms to alert a deaf customer of emergency.

    Photo courtesey of wheelchair travel advocate.
    Photo courtesy of wheelchair travel advocate.
  2. Train staff to quickly and safely evacuate all people from the building.
  3. Do not block or lock exits.
  4. Have a safety and evacuation plan.
  5. Have an ADA Inspection of your business and correct all areas for ADA compliance.


  1. Is the entrance to the business accessible to persons with mobility limitations?

    The landscape architects at Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates worked with sculptor Martin Puryear to design this courtyard at the New School University. The courtyard includes a spiral ramp that provides wheelchair access to the terrace. Courtesy Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc.
  2. Install an automatic door button or a door with sensors.
  3. Many  doors are  too heavy for consumers with limited hand strength.
  4. Always be ready to open the door and welcome a customer.
  5. Is the entry to the building on an even hard surface and without steps?
  6. Install a lift or ramp.
  7. Is the entry clean and free of clutter and debris?
  8. If the accessible entrance is not immediately apparent, are there directional signs?
  9. Are there handicapped parking signs and spaces with necessary access space for vans with lifts?
  10. Post a notice on the front door that assistance will be provided for customers with disabilities.
  11. Avoid thick rubber mats or carpeting which may prove to be a trip hazard.
  12. In cases where mats are required, tapered edges will make using a walker or cane safer. In addition, black-and-yellow CAUTION tape may be applied at the edges for higher visibility.


  1. If large front windows face the morning or afternoon sun, provide light filtering shades to minimize glare.
  2. Glare can make it virtually impossible for a person with some visual impairment to move about safely.


  1. Provide at least one wheelchair-accessible checkout line with a lower counter to sign checks and receipts.
  2. Install tactile buttons at the checkout for customers with limited vision.DSSbrailephone
  3. Provide large fonts on the register screen.
  4. Install audible check out for hearing impaired customers.
  5. Provide a talking UPC bar code reader for hearing impaired consumers.
  6. Provide a handheld CCTV available for customer use in identifying merchandise and prices.
  7. Verify tactile dots on electronic signature screens.
  8. Keep paper and a pen at each register.
  9. When disabled customers use communication devices, ALWAYS be patient and wait for instructions.
  10. Give disabled consumers as much time as they need to check out. Be patient.
  11. If the store policy is for the customer to bag their own groceries, ask permission if the customer if they would like you to bag their groceries.
  12. Do not make any assumptions.
  13. Train staff to ask permission first before offering to assist disabled persons with lifting and carrying items out.


  1. Post a notice on the front door that assistance will be provided for customers with disabilities.
  2. ADA Code is very specific about braille signage locations.
  3. Make sure to read the code before investing in braille signage.
  4. Use large easy to find aisle numbers and items signs.
  5. Locate common items  at end caps.


  1. All businesses must provide accessible restrooms.
  2. Check the ADA Code. You might be surprised that if your restroom was built prior to 2010, it might be out of ADA compliance.
  3. Don’t clutter the restroom with furniture pieces, plant stands and decorative clutter.
  4. Don’t block access to the restroom.


  1. Provide movable seating and accessible tables that accommodate wheelchairs.
  2. Provide benches or chairs for disabled customers to rest. Many customers shop in pairs.
  3. Always make sure that there is a comfortable place for the disabled customer’s companion so that the shopper stays longer and buys more.


  1. Make sure that aisles are wide and meet ADA Code.
  2. Freezer and cooler doors should stay open until manually closed.
  3. Make sure that nothing protrudes into pathways.

    Photo courtesey of wheelchair travel advocate.
    Photo courtesy of wheelchair travel advocate.
  4. Appropriately space displays of merchandise for wheelchairs to maneuver through.
  5. A cluttered store is an uncomfortable store.
  6. People buy more when merchandise is easy to see and reach.
  7. Having excessive merchandise does not mean that consumers are buying more.
  8. A comfortable shopping experience increases total sales per consumer.
  9. Avoiding leaving unattended stacks of inventory in the aisle. Keep aisle clutter free.
  10. If removal of a barrier is not “readily achievable,” are the goods, services, etc. made available through alternative methods? Use high-contrast colored flooring in traffic areas, such as aisle.
  11. Provide large changing rooms with seats and appropriate level clothes hooks for wheelchair access in clothing departments.  Many changing rooms do not meet ADA Code.
  12. Checkered tiles or patterns can help a person with visual impairments find their way through a dark or complex store.
  13. Use different color walls or patterned flooring to delineate different departments.
  14. Different textures of carpet and flooring for help with direction and wayfinding.
  15. Disabled Consumers love to shop locally.
  16. Add a note on your Facebook or Website welcoming “Customers with disabilities – contact us if you need any special assistance.
  17. Make the company’s Website user-friendly to visitors with disabilities.

Disability-friendly businesses understand the tremendous spending power of this consumer segment and do everything in their power to welcome disabled customers to their business. This list is just a beginning. Consider getting a detailed  ADA Inspection and Accessibility Survey with a detail report.  Always remember that if you treat the disabled community well, you will have customers for life.

Disability Smart Solutions is full-service ADA Consulting firm offering ADA Compliance Access Surveys, Project Consultation, Post-Compliance Audits, All-Ability Customer Service Training, Undercover Disabled Guest Mystery Shopping, Universal Design Product Review and Keynote Speaking.  Please contact us to review your accessibility needs.

ADA Compliance
Improve the customer experience and everybody wins.