The increase in digitization of retail throughout the pandemic has made accessing retail harder for Canadians with disabilities, including the growing population of older Canadians who will increasingly face accessibility challenges. People living with disabilities can struggle to interact with mainstream retail infrastructures and are sometimes met with attitudes that are unknowingly insensitive to their situations.
This free 28-page guidebook, available for download on RCC’s website under its Accessibility section, serves as an invaluable resource to retailers by offering critical information and insights to support the creation and maintenance of accessible digital and physical stores. It is available in French and English.
The need for retailers to address their stores’ accessibility challenges, and to understand opportunities for improvements, is illustrated in the following statistics:
- 30% of Canadians consider accessibility when looking for a place to shop or do business. Source: Rick Hansen Foundation
- 9.1 million people in Canada have a recognized disability. Source: The Global Economics of Disability
- $82.2 billion is the cumulative annual disposable income among Canadians with disabilities Source: The Global Economics of Disability
“While retailers have done an amazing job throughout the pandemic of diversifying how the general population can shop, especially through the many new digital options available, there continue to be opportunities to improve accessibility for people with disabilities,” said Marcie Wenn, Manager, Education at Retail Council of Canada. “And, as the average age of Canada’s population increases, so too will the number of individuals who are living with disabilities. When retailers make enhancements to their digital and physical stores to create greater accessibility, they directly meet the needs of those with disabilities, and build stronger loyalties with the people who support those with disabilities. Retailers that make these accommodations positively differentiate their retail experiences for all customers.
RCC, with generous support from the Government of Ontario’s Ministry of Seniors and Accessibility, has developed this free resource to help retailers better understand how accessibility barriers impacts their customers and business’ success.
Featured sections of Accessibility Amid a Changing Retail Landscape guidebook include:
- Accessible customer service: What retailers can do to ensure that all customers are served properly, including wording, and speaking with compassion;
- People with vision and hearing disabilities: How retail can support and ensure comfortable spaces;
- People with physical disabilities: What tools can aid customers;
- Online store accessibility: Accessible website guidelines, assistive technology, accessible digital content images to ensure a comfortable online experience;
- Guide dogs and other service animals: Protocols and assistance for retailers;
- Accessibility and store design: How to make retail spaces more welcoming and usable;
- Overcoming building type restrictions: 10 simple things retailers can do to make their stores accessible, regardless of the type of building in which they operate.
To complement the teachings within the Accessibility Amid a Changing Retail Landscape guidebook, RCC is hosting two webinars in September (simultaneous translation in French will be offered) that is open to everyone who wants to learn more about building mental health into retail operations.
These webinars are part of RCC’s EnAbling Change for Retailers series, an initiative aimed at making retail operations more accessible, adaptive, and inclusive. A variety of topics are covered to help retailers maintain accessibility standards from every angle. Recordings of the 2022 EnAbling Change webinar series can be found in the Accessibility section of the RCC website.
Questions on the new Accessibility Amid a Changing Retail Landscape guidebook or the EnAbling Change for Retailers webinars series can be directed to Marcie Wenn, Manager, Education Retail Council of Canada, firstname.lastname@example.org