The fundamental motivation is that about one out of five potential retail customers has a disability, as defined by ADA. The fundamental guideline in accommodation is to respect each disabled shopper’s dignity.
- As with other customers, welcome the disabled shopper to your store. Welcome any service animals—such as guide dogs—as well by recognizing they are on the job. Distractions make the job harder. Welcome the human companions. For instance, under the new regulations, if you provide dressing rooms for customers, there must be provision for a disabled shopper to have a companion who can assist the shopper in trying on clothes whenever necessary. A chair for the companion would be a nice touch.
- Listen for the disabled shopper’s requests for special assistance. Then collaborate with the shopper in deciding how you can reasonably accommodate the requests.
- Anticipate the disabled shopper’s unstated distinctive requirements. With obvious disabilities, such as the person who enters in a wheelchair, be ready to assist in getting items from higher shelves that other customers would be able to reach easily. Also be alert to less obvious disabilities, such as the adult customer who needs help reading labels because of partial blindness or intellectual deficits.
- Ask questions, but with minimal intrusiveness and a recognition that most disabled people want to do as much as possible on their own. “How may I help you?” is a good start.
- Consider the extra attention as an opportunity to close additional sales on items the disabled customer and their shopping companions could benefit from having. When the restaurant server is reading menu items to the blind patron, it should be with a spirit of giving a wonderful dining experience, not with the attitude of being bothered.
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