How To Welcome Customers

Did you know that just over 15.5% of Ontarians have a disability? That is 1 in every 7 Ontarians, and as the population ages, that number will grow. People with disabilities travel, shop and do business in your community with their friends and families, just like everyone else. By providing service that welcomes people with disabilities, you can offer better service to everyone.

Treating all your customers with individual respect and courtesy is at the heart of excellent customer service. You can broaden your customer base by welcoming everyone to your store, restaurant or services, including customers with disabilities. By learning how to serve people with disabilities, you can attract more customers and improve your service to everyone.

Here are some ways you can provide better service to your customers with disabilities:
  • Treat people with disabilities with the same respect and consideration you have for everyone else.
  • Patience, optimism, and a willingness to find a way to communicate are your best tools.
  • Smile, relax, and keep in mind that people with disabilities are just people.
  • Don’t make assumptions about what type of disability or disabilities a person has.
  • Take the time to get to know your customers’ needs.
  • People with some kinds of disabilities may take a little longer to understand and respond.
  • If you're not sure what to do, ask your customer, "May I help you?"
  • If you can’t understand what someone is saying, just politely ask again.
  • Ask before you offer to help — don’t just jump in.
  • Your customers with disabilities know if they need help and how you can provide it.
  • Find a good way to communicate. A good start is to listen carefully.
  • Look at your customer, but don’t stare.
  • Speak directly to a person with a disability, not to their interpreter or someone who is with them.
  • Use plain language.
  • Don’t touch or address service animals – they are working and have to pay attention at all times.
  • Ask permission before touching a wheelchair or a piece of equipment.

Tips on serving customers with physical disabilities:
  • There are many types and degrees of physical disabilities, and not all require a wheelchair.
  • People who have arthritis, heart or lung conditions or amputations may also have difficulty with moving, standing or sitting.
  • It may be difficult to identify a person with a physical disability.
  • Speak normally and directly to your customer. Don’t speak to someone who is with them.
  • People with physical disabilities often have their own ways of doing things.
  • Ask before you help.
  • Be patient. Customers will identify their needs to you.
  • Don't touch assistive devices, including wheelchairs, unnecessarily unless it’s an emergency.
  • Provide your customer information about accessible features of the immediate environment (automatic doors, accessible washrooms, etc.).
  •  Remove obstacles and rearrange furniture to ensure clear passage.

Source: Ministry of Community and Social Services

← Previous  |  Home  |  Next →

Opening Doors to Dignity

We promote equal access for people with physical disabilities to services, transportation, buildings, businesses, stores, and services.

We advocate that people with physical disabilities should receive the same respect and consideration that able-bodied people receive.

We remove attitudinal and systemic barriers that persons with physical disabilities must handle on a daily basis by educating and talking with able-bodied people.