In 2013, the Commission met with local businesses in the Melbourne Central Business District (CBD) to hear about their experiences providing services to customers with disabilities. We found varying levels of understanding among businesses and staff about accessibility, customers’ communication needs and about how customer service for people with disabilities, older people, parents or carers could be improved. We also found that the physical accessibility of each premises varied.
Some businesses had already made adjustments to support people with disabilities. This included providing a fully accessible entry, tactile markings, installing portable ramps and accessible fitting rooms.
Other businesses were not accessible. In these situations our discussions focused on what prevents businesses making changes. Businesses also discussed how they attempted to overcome barriers in other ways, such as through customer service and communication.
Our consultations revealed a number of barriers to providing an accessible environment including: cost, lack of legal and practical information and difficulties around control and ownership. Some staff and managers believed that accessibility should be addressed by their landlord or building owner.
In response, the Commission developed a self- assessment tool (see What do I need to do? section) which can be used by businesses to help them identify areas in their business where accessibility can be improved. The Commission also developed fact sheets on accessibility for business owners and service staff .