How will the All People Accessible Business (APAB) project help grow my customer base and revenue?

APAB can help your business grow by assisting in making your business more accessible so that more people can shop, dine and participate in services offered by business, as well as seek employment with your business. Eliminating barriers not only allows people with mobility and sensory disabilities to enter or work at your business, but makes your business more convenient for parents using strollers for their children. Further, improving your interactions with customers and by implementing various accessibility features such as wide isles, will greatly improve the experience for customers living with disabilities, and you will find individuals and family of people with disabilities becoming repeat and loyal customers. Also, by becoming APAB designated, businesses can take advantage of free advertising through the Independent Living Center of the North Shore and Cape Ann, Inc. via its webpage, Facebook as well as through a press public service announcement sent to local media in North Shore Cape Ann Area.

If I install one accessibility feature, like a ramp, will I have to make my entire business accessible? I don't have that type of capital.

If you plan to install an accessibility feature like a ramp or automatic door opener, you will not be forced to make everything accessible at the time you install a ramp or automatic door opener. However depending on the extent of major renovations to your building, you may be required to meet state accessibility regulations 521 CMR. If you cannot afford to make improvement to meet the accessibility regulations you can request a variance from the Massachusetts Architectural Access Board.

How do I assist a customer who has a disability?

The best way to assist someone with a disability is to ask first if assistance is needed, and wait for the person's response. If they say that assistance is not needed, please respect the person's independence to meet their own needs. If the person says tat they do need assistance, ask how you can help. People with disabilities know their bodies best and are in the best position to inform you how you can assist. Once they have given directions, and you understand them, then you can proceed to help them. Also, be aware not to touch a wheelchair, mobility device, service dog, or a person's body or belongings without consent from the person.

How do I communicate to a customer who uses sign language?

If a customer who is deaf comes in with someone who can interpret sign language, make eye contact and speak directly to the customer and do not pay attention to the interpreter. Should the customer not have someone to interpret for them, follow their lead in their communication method. Some people may be able to lip read and are fine with communicating orally, while others prefer to communicate through writing back and firth on paper or typing/texting.

How do I identify a service animal?

It's best that you ask whether the animal us a service animal if you are uncertain. Service animals come in all shapes and sizes. There is no one certification for a service animal. In situation where it is not obvious that the dg is a service animal, staff may ask only two specific questions: (1) is the dog a service animal required because of a disability? and (2) what work or task has the dog been trained to perform? Staff are not allowed to request any documentation for the dog, require that the dog demonstrate its task or inquire about the nature of the person's disability.

How do we avoid saying the wrong thing to a customer?

A good rule of thumb is to refer to people with disabilities using person first language. Examples of person first language is "person with a disability", "person who is blind", "person with an intellectual disability", and "person using a wheelchair." Refrain from using language such as wheelchair bound, handicapped, differently abled, and mentally retarded.