Accessible Business Blog Image SmallAs someone who drives a lot for work I listen to a lot of radio, particularly, the CBC. I have a very rudimentary understanding of technology but generally enjoy listening to Spark with Nora Young. A few weeks back I was in the car at just the right moment and was able to catch an interview with Jason DaSilva, the documentarian, tech entrepreneur and advocate behind AXS Map and AXS Lab.  Since hearing the broadcast I have become increasingly aware of accessibility issues around businesses, as well as the value of sharing information on accessible places in town.

The crowd-sourced application uses Google’s mapping platform to allow users all over the world to rate businesses and public spaces based on accessibility, share their findings and search for businesses that meet their needs. Criteria include: entrances, amount of space to maneuver, noise level, restroom accessibility and ramps. Users can rate businesses on a scale of 1-5 stars, and the results are amalgamated for an average rating. People who use wheelchairs, scooters and canes, or who are pushing a stroller can use the searchable database to locate accessible restaurants, shops, bars and other meeting places in their communities.

Best of all, anyone can use the AXS Map website or smart phone app to rate the businesses and spaces they visit. Check out their How to Rate video for a step by step guide on how to evaluate businesses based on their accessibility. Using a tool like AXS Map not only helps increase the information available to people who use mobility aids and parents with strollers, it’s a great way to build awareness around creating barrier-free spaces. Business owners can use their rating to better understand how people encounter their space and what they can do to improve accessibility. When you get right down to it, having an accessible business means having more customers.

Is your business accessible? Here are some things to consider:

1. Parking, drop-off area or transit access

2. Entrance

3. Doors with a 32″ opening that can be opened with a closed fist

4. Aisles and pathways are 36″ wide, with at least one 5′ wide open space to turn a wheelchair completely

5. Audible and visible emergency signals

6. Braille or high contrast light on dark text on signage

7. Non slip stairs with railings, ramps and elevators where appropriate

8. Accessible washrooms

9. Are items for sale placed easily within reach?

For further information and tips on creating more accessible spaces, see the Retail Guide published by the U.S. Department of Justice and the StopGap Initiative featured recently in the Globe and Mail.

CAES is on call to support Calgary businesses looking to create inclusive workplaces and businesses, contact us today to see how our experienced team can support your organization.