ADA compliance under the Americans with Disabilities Act outlines minimum standards for making a place of business accessible to those using wheelchairs. Many business owners are aware of requirements for specially designated parking places, curb cut-outs, ramps, and automatic doors. However, with a little extra time and attention to best practices, grocers can create a much easier shopping experience for customers with disabilities.
Possibly the best way to evaluate the accessibility of the store is to travel it oneself. Those without mobility impairments often times overlook design elements that become barriers for individuals using wheelchairs. We encourage grocers to navigate their own stores using one of the in-house electric shopping carts. Look for the following:
- Electric Shopping Cart. Is the cart in good working order? Does it maintain an appropriate speed and turn well? Is the seat comfortable and secure? Is it clean?
- Produce Bags. Are they lowered and easily reached by someone from a seated position?
- Product Displays. Are product displays obstructing the aisles? Are they placed at a height that can be seen over the top of a full basket?
- Product Reach. Are items reachable from the seated position? If not, are reachers provided by the store? Are there enough employees on duty to provide assistance?
- Heavy Items. Are heavier items at an easy-to-reach height?
- Check-Out Line. Is it relatively easy to remove items from the basket and place them on the cashier’s conveyor belt from a seated position? Can you see the number pad on the credit card terminal?
In addition to being attentive to design and mechanics that hinder or help the shopping experience of someone with a disability, we also encourage store owners to provide clear and direct accessibility information on their websites. Someone new to the area may like to know what to expect before he/she arrives. Does your website list specifically what equipment and assistance is available for shoppers with impairments? Is that information easy to find?
To help your grocery store become not only ADA compliant but an example of best practices, contact Access Advocates today.
Photo courtesy Flick user I-5 Design & Manufacture