Creating a Sensory-Friendly Business Environment: 5 Strategies for Inclusivity

In this blog post, we'll explore five practical strategies to make your business more sensory accessible, promoting a welcoming and inclusive environment for everyone.

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According to national statistics and estimates, 210,000 people in Essex have some level of sensory impairment.

The number of adults registered with sight and/ or hearing loss has increased over the past four years by 13%.

In today's diverse and inclusive business landscape, it's essential for companies to go beyond traditional accessibility measures and consider the sensory needs of all customers and employees.

Let’s delve into five actionable strategies aimed at enhancing the sensory accessibility of your business, fostering a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere for all.

1. Ensure staff are properly trained

One of the key pillars of creating a sensory-friendly business is to ensure that your staff are trained to be aware and responsive to the diverse needs of your customers and your workforce. This involves educating employees about different sensory challenges and providing them with tools to effectively communicate and assist individuals who may require additional support.

Example: Host regular training sessions that include scenarios and practical exercises, helping staff members understand how to recognise and respond to sensory needs.

Adopt a cascade system within your working environment to share good practices / current updates and to celebrate success stories within a team.

Encourage open communication and empathy to foster a supportive atmosphere within your team.

In the intro we talk about customers and staff so we need to say diverse needs of your customers and their colleagues or customers and your workforce.

2. Accessibility

The journey into your business should be stress-free for all visitors. Simplify the arrival process by offering easy parking options and a hassle-free entrance, reducing potential sensory triggers before customers even step inside.

Example: Designate accessible parking spaces close to the entrance for those who may need it and ensure that the entrance is clearly marked with visible signage. Consider features like automatic doors to make entry smoother for everyone. Dropped kerbs and tactile paving can also significantly improve accessibility for those with Sensory impairments – especially those with visual impairments using canes.

3. Pathways

Create an environment that accommodates individuals with mobility challenges or those who may feel overwhelmed by crowded or cluttered spaces. Wide, clutter-free pathways enhance the overall accessibility of your business.

Example: Most people impacted by sensory impairment are struggling with mobility and have a hard time navigating through small spaces – as it’s way easier to bump, step or fall over those ‘invisible’ pieces. Make sure to arrange the furniture and displays to allow for spacious walkways, preventing congestion.

Regularly assess the layout of your space to identify and address potential obstacles. Use clear signage to guide customers and/or employees and maintain an organised and uncluttered aesthetic.

4. Create a quiet area

Know that some people struggle with loud noises, like those with cochlear implants or who can't lip-read well. It's important to have a calm spot they can go to. Make a special area in your place where customers or workers can relax and reduce distractions.

Example: Make a quiet area with comfy chairs, soft lights, and things to block out noise. Tell your staff where it is so they can help people who need a break from noise.

5. Inside your premises

Ensuring a welcoming environment extends beyond just lighting; it also involves the overall layout and design of your workspace. Consider the needs of individuals with sensory sensitivities in every aspect of your interior design.

For instance, choose vibrant colours for pillars and doorways to make them more visible for those with visual impairments. Additionally, prioritise clear signage and furniture arrangements to prevent accidents and promote navigation. Collaborate with sensory experts to identify specific elements that can enhance accessibility and comfort in your workspace.

Implementing these comprehensive strategies will significantly improve the sensory accessibility of your business. Remember, even small adjustments can make a substantial difference in ensuring everyone feels welcome and valued in your workspace.

If you would like to enquire about training, visit https://www.ecl.org/services/sensory-service/sensory-champions

If you would like to join our Sensory Action Alliance, visit https://www.ecl.org/services/sensory-service/action-alliance

If you’d like more help with creating a sensory accessible business, visit https://www.ecl.org/services/sensory-service/sensory-charter-mark.

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