Is your workplace accessible? In 2022, a ‘no’ is inexcusable.
By Kate Ng and Allison Rogers
ADDRESSING ACCESSIBILITY IN THE AUTO REPAIR BUSINESS
No one likes to be left out. That being said, have you gauged how accessible and inclusive your workplace is toward its customers? Even further, are you doing all you can to make sure your customers feel safe, secure and welcome when dealing with the collision process? Pair the feelings of exclusion with the stress of a vehicle collision—that’s something no person should have to endure.
As an accessibility consultant, Marco Pasqua is dedicated to eradicating such feelings. He believes that a business should not purely be based on its financial transactions, but rather on its ability to navigate human interactions, as that’s what matters most, he says. The TEDtalk speaker delivered his foundational tips during Skills Canada’s virtual Level Up event in late February.
Let’s Talk Terminology
When helping customers with disabilities, collision centre employees should make an effort to speak directly with them first. In the event the customer is accompanied by an attendant or interpreter, addressing questions toward anyone who is not the customer can be seen as demeaning.
Similarly, avoid using negative language or unflattering words like crazy, insane, handicapped or challenged. There should never be an instance, in a collision repair setting, wherein you’d need to discuss a customer’s medical information, or even discuss the customer in any context other than in relation to their vehicle.
The only time a customer’s personal information should be of your concern is in the event of an emergency.
Never, under any circumstances, should there be a situation where you touch a person’s mobility device without permission.
Make Way, Coming Through
Accessibility is a massive issue in modern society. The volume of accessible parking spots, a curb with no dip or access point, the angle of your entrance ramp and the roughness of your floors are all factors that can make or break a customer’s experience in your workplace.
Look at the lot you work in—is the entrance accessible to someone travelling on a set of wheels, or are there obstacles that may pose a risk? Bringing up such concerns to a superior could result in changes that ensure all customers feel welcomed.
Clean Up Your Act
In the age of COVID-19, plexiglass barriers and face masks have become commonplace. While effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19, such barriers can prevent certain customers from understanding what you are saying or communicating back to you.
One accommodation for individuals that are hard of hearing could be a dual-way mic. If that’s not in the budget, a sanitized pad of paper and a pen could also do the trick.
There are countless creative ways to communicate in the event of challenges—be understanding and make every effort to keep the customer comfortable. Screaming will get no one anywhere.
Businesses should also consider implementing multiple options for bathroom hygiene and hand sanitizer stations. Not everyone can use foot pumps or squeeze bottles on a countertop—try to provide multiple options for soaps and sanitizers.