Come in... we're accessible - Self-assessment

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Self-assessment

General access - getting in, around and out

Having an accessible entry to your shop or providing a portable or fixed ramp is crucial in ensuring equal access. Consider the width of your doorway and providing automatic doors to accommodate larger wheelchairs or mobility aids. Check whether there are barriers that may impede access to the entrance itself, for example, signage or other obstacles.

Once inside your premises, customers should be able to access your services independently. This means they should easily be able to browse, inspect goods, access amenities and information or use services and pay for them at the sales counter on an equal footing with other customers.

Making it easy for customers to get around means ensuring there are clear paths within the shop (including between aisles), accessing the counter and leaving the premises. If you have fitting rooms, they should be on the ground floor if you don’t have a ramp or lift to all levels.

It is essential to be aware that customers may have a range of disabilities and needs affecting how they can access your business. Thinking creatively about how you can improve access means that your business will welcome a broad clientele and promote the positive duty of a service provider to prevent discrimination.

Do people with disabilities, older people and parents access your premises, goods or services?

That is great news – but are there ways even more customers could frequent your business? Think about ways to improve accessibility for these groups and consider any feedback you have received from customers. Your business may be accessible in some respects but not others.

It may be easy to access and enter your business but once inside, is it easy to move around? Can you make adjustments to the layout (for example, by lowering counter heights, installing ramps, removing obstacles and ensuring aisles are easy to move through) to make it more accessible?

It is possible people are not using your business because it is not accessible, Or if it is accessible, this may need to be clearly indicated to customers with a disability. For example, customers with mobility and sensory disabilities who notice an obstacle like steps may assume that the area is inaccessible without clear signage or markings to direct them to a ramp. Provide signs that make it clear what is available, such as portable ramps, lifts and accessible change rooms.

Is it easy for people to find your business?

Clear signage and markings can assist people with disabilities, particularly those with vision impairment, to access your business. This can include having the entrance, door or steps painted in contrasting colours to the surroundings and providing clear signage.

Clear signs and markings can help people with disabilities, particularly those with vision impairment, to access your business. This can include having the entrance, door or steps painted in contrasting colours to the surroundings and providing signs.

For more information about this download the Commission’s fact sheets when you complete this self assessment.

Is it easy for customers to get in the door?

Think about other ways you can improve accessibility once customers are inside, such as by making it easier to move around and having tools to assist you or your staff in communicating with all customers.

Whether you’re a business owner, manager or staff member, you have obligations under the Equal Opportunity Act not to discriminate against people with disability.

You also have an obligation to prevent discrimination before it occurs – this is known as the ‘positive duty’. This ‘positive duty’ focuses on eliminating the causes of discrimination, not just responding to complaints that arise.

Service providers also have an obligation to make reasonable adjustments so that people with disabilities can access services. Making reasonable adjustments requires balancing the need for change with the expense or effort involved in making this change.

Removing a step at the entry to your business or providing a portable or fixed ramp is crucial in ensuring equal access and therefore likely to be considered essential to avoid discrimination when weighed against the cost. Owners should contact their landlord or local council to discuss the logistics of making these changes.

For more information download the Commission’s fact sheets when you complete this self assessment.

Are assistance animals welcome?


Yes they are. In fact, employers, goods and service providers and others, must not discriminate against someone because they have an assistance dog. This means that a person with an assistance dog must be allowed onto transport and into cafes, shops and restaurants.

It is against the law to deny a person access to your business because they have an assistance dog.

An assistance dog is any dog that is trained to perform tasks or functions that help a person with a disability to alleviate the effects of the disability. It is important to remember that assistance dogs can assist people with many disabilities, not just sensory disabilities like hearing or vision impairment. Assistance dogs come in a range of breeds and include dogs trained to perform tasks including picking things up for people with mobility disabilities, dogs trained to enable a person to cope with social situations (for example assisting a person with a mental health disability to manage interacting with other people) or dogs that assist people who have seizures.

If a person has a dog with them and you’re not sure whether it is an assistance dog, you can politely ask them if it is.

Is it easy for customers to get around once inside?

Good one! Your premises are easily accessible for people with disabilities. Think of ways to make further improvements and use the Commission’s fact sheets (available at the end of this self-assessment) to assist you.

Customers with disabilities are finding it difficult to move around your shop, access goods independently and get assistance from staff when needed. Think about how you can change the inside of your premises. Make sure there are no obstacles like display tables in narrow areas or stock on the floor and widen aisles if necessary.

You can find a range of suggestions about making it easy for customers to get around once inside your store by downloading the Commission’s fact sheets at the end of this self assessment.

Is there a ramp or lift to all levels?


Congratulations! All levels of your premises are easily accessible for people with disability.

You should investigate the possibility of providing a lift or ramp. Remember you have a positive duty to take reasonable and proportionate steps to prevent discrimination and an obligation to provide reasonable adjustments to ensure everyone can access your services. Making reasonable adjustments requires balancing the need for change with the expense or effort involved in making this change.

If you can’t provide access to all levels, you need to think of alternative ways to ensure people with disability can access your stock, such as by bringing items downstairs for customers or showing them the stock online before finding particular items for them. Consider providing a sign at the foot of any stairs, making it clear that stock and information about items can be made available on request for people who are unable to use them.

For more information about this download the Commission’s fact sheets when you complete this self assessment.

Accessible toilets and changing places

You should have accessible toilets for people with disability or easy access to one, if there are no accessible toilets in your premises.

If possible, you should try to ensure any accessible toilets also have changing places. While people generally know about accessible toilets for people with disability, “changing places” for people with disability are relatively new in Australia. These are toilets with enough space and adequate facilities to allow people with disabilities – or their parents or carers – to easily attend to toileting and/or change needs with dignity.

You can find detailed information about the features of accessible toilets with changing places by visiting http://www.disabilityaccessconsultants.com.au/changing-places-toilets-new-information-kit.

Are there accessible toilets for people with disability (either at your business or nearby)?

Good one! People with disabilities can easily access toilets when needed.

You need to provide accessible toilets for people with disabilities or arrange for customers to have access to accessible toilets nearby.

Find out more about accessible toilets by downloading the Commission’s fact sheets at the end of this self assessment.

Do any accessible toilets also have "changing places"?

Congratulations! You are either providing an accessible toilet (or one that is easily accessed) for people with disabilities to use when needed. Having a changing place also means people with disabilities – or their parents or carers – can easily attend to toileting and/or change needs with dignity.

Think about whether you can make changes to accessible toilets so that people with disabilities – or their parents or carers – can easily attend to toileting and/or change needs with dignity.

Detailed information about the features of accessible toilets with changing places is available at http://www.disabilityaccessconsultants.com.au/changing-places-toilets-new-information-kit/

If you don’t think you can provide a changing place yourself, think about how else you can make one available for customers. For example, if you are in a shopping centre complex, why not get in touch with the shopping centre management about providing a changing place?

Communication access - getting the message across

Accessibility is not just about physical access – addressing communication needs is just as important. For managers, this means you need to make sure your staff are trained to communicate with customers with disabilities affecting communication and provide communication aids (such as signs, hearings loops, large print menus or tablet devices) to assist with communication.

Hearing loops are one example of a simple adjustment you can make to assist with communication access. A hearing loop is an effective way to convey sounds to people with hearing impairments, help them participate in decisions and access services on an equal basis with others.

A hearing loop is a wire loop within your premises that surrounds the room and helps to convey audio sounds to people using cochlear implants or hearing aids. Once the hearing loop is installed a hearing loop symbol lets people know they can switch on their hearing aids to Telecoil (T) mode. You would need to engage a specialist to install a hearing loop.

In addition to having access to communication aids, staff attitudes also play an important part. Consider the following:

  • are staff patient and welcoming? Do they speak clearly and make eye contact, use simple language, read information to customers and check to confirm the person has understood?
  • are staff trained to use interpreters, use basic signing skills and can they access a telephone typewriter (TTY)?
  • are staff trained in using non-electronic communication such as boards, pen and paper, or communication aids or electronic communication aids such as tablets?
  • Do staff know how to use the National Relay Service if necessary? visit http://relayservice.gov.au/ for details.
Do you provide any aids or adjustments that assist with communication?

Congratulations! You are helping your customers easily access information, goods and services in your business by providing appropriate communication aids. This means you are taking steps to improve the customer service experiences and helping your business meet its obligations under the Act.

It would be a good idea to use the self assessment again at a later stage to see if you could make more improvements to communication with your customers. This will strengthen your sales proposition and help your business appeal to an even wider range of potential customers.

If you are already providing training to your staff in this area, think about keeping skills current by providing further refresher training. If you are not currently providing training to staff, consider some training options that focus on communicating with customers with disabilities to help your business reinforce good practice.

You can find more information about accessible communication by downloading the Commission’s fact sheets at the end of this self assessment.

Your customers find it hard to access information in your business. This is because appropriate communication techniques and aids are not being used.

Remember - whether you’re a business owner, manager or staff member, you have obligations under the Equal Opportunity Act not to discriminate against people with disability.

You also have an obligation to prevent discrimination before it occurs – this is known as the ‘positive duty’. This ‘positive duty’ focuses on eliminating the causes of discrimination, not just responding to complaints that arise.

Service providers also have an obligation to make reasonable adjustments, such as communication adjustments, so that people with disabilities can access services. Making reasonable adjustments requires balancing the need for change with the expense or effort involved in making this change.

Find out more information about accessible communication by downloading the Commission’s fact sheets at the end of this self assessment.

Is a hearing loop installed?

Nice one! Having a hearing loop installed will assist customers who use cochlear implants or hearing aids to communicate and access your premises, goods and services.

Providing a hearing loop is a simple way to improve communication access. Hearing loops are commonly used and easy to set up.

Are staff trained on effective communication with customers with a disability?

Congratulations! You and your staff are effectively using communication skills (and/or non-electronic or electronic communication aids) to help your customers easily access information, goods and services in your business on an equal basis with others.

You have provided your staff with training on effective communication (and on how to use electronic and non-electronic communication aids) with customers with a disability. This will help them to feel confident when providing an accessible and quality service to customers with a range of disabilities.

It will also help your business comply with the Act and attract a wider range of customers.

Think about providing refresher training at a later stage to ensure that skills and knowledge remain current.

You can use the Commission’s fact sheets (available at the end of this self-assessment) to identify areas for further improvement.

Remember, you have a legal obligation to make reasonable adjustments to ensure customers with disability can access your goods and services. Making reasonable adjustments requires balancing the need for change with the expense or effort involved in making this change.

Your business and your staff need to do more to help your customers access information and improve the quality of their customer service experience. This could be achieved by making small changes such as taking more time with customers, making eye contact and checking back to ensure you have understood them correctly.

Provide training to your staff on communicating with people with disabilities and on how to use non-electronic and electronic communication aids. This will improve experiences for your customers, potentially attract more customers and help you to meet your obligations under the Equal Opportunity Act.

You can find more information by downloading the Commission’s fact sheets at the end of this self assessment.

Other accessible service options

Making your business more accessible in the short term will help you to meet your legal obligations under the Equal Opportunity Act and attract business. It is worthwhile thinking of alternative ways of providing your goods and services in order to reach a wider range of customers.

Consider the following:

  • Having appropriate shopping baskets and trolleys
  • Having a home delivery service or allowing people to take things home to try on
  • Allowing customers to shop online

Do you use alternatives to assist people with disability to access your goods and services?


Your business is using alternate ways to make goods and services accessible to customers. This makes it easier for customers to access your business.

Continue to think about new ways to provide full access to your goods and services in the interim. This will allow your customers to have access to goods and services while you are making more permanent changes to improve accessibility for the longer term.

You can use the Commission’s fact sheets (available at the end of this self assessment) to identify areas for further improvement.

You need to consider ways to provide goods and services to your customers while making more permanent changes to improve accessibility. This will make your business much more accessible to a wider range of customers in the short term while you are making more permanent changes to improve accessibility for the longer term.

For more information download the Commission’s fact sheets at the end of this self assessment.

You can find detailed information on your legal obligations and the positive duty to prevent discrimination in the fact sheets below. The fact sheets provide you with information on how you can meet your obligations and improve accessibility. This includes communicating effectively with people with different kinds of disability and how you can make reasonable adjustments to meet the needs of your customers who have a disability: