5 Reasons why it’s important to detail your venue’s accessibility information on your company website
For disabled and neurodivergent people attending any venue, accessibility is paramount. But what if they can’t find any accessibility information on your venue’s website before their visit? Or, what if what they can find is minimal and lacks description?
When I started to research venues for listings on Eric Knows, I was surprised at how little I could find about their accessibility features online. Websites? Nothing. Social media? The bare minimum. Sometimes, on listings websites, I’d find the phrase “disabled access”. And that’s it.
Then I realised – if this was my experience, then it’s also the experience of countless other disabled and neurodivergent people.
Making your venue’s accessibility information visible on your website is crucial for disabled and neurodivergent people. And for your business! Here are 5 reasons why.
1. Disabled people’s first interaction with your venue’s accessibility will be on your website.
According to Euan’s Guide Access Survey, 92% of disabled people try to find access information before they visit a venue. 81% check the company website, whilst 47% search the internet. And only 35% contact venues directly (15% less than in 2020).
Essentially, your website is where most disabled and neurodivergent people will first interact with your venue’s accessibility. It’s where their customer experience begins and it’s your first impression.
If they can find detailed and accurate access information with ease, they’ll have a positive first experience. However, if they have to scour the first page of Google to find next to nothing, they’ll have a negative one. They may feel that they aren’t being considered and get fed up whilst trying to look for access information.
2. Making your venue’s accessibility information visible on your website helps reduce “access anxiety”.
My friend Emily told me about the phrase “access anxiety”. At first, I thought she’d made it up. As it turns out, this term describes a real, felt experience for many disabled and neurodivergent people.
When my wife and I are going somewhere new, we always make sure to check the place out online. However, our questions are limited to:
- How do we get there and how long will it take?
- Are there veggie options?
- Do they have a toilet?
Then, off we go. Sometimes I need to check if there’s disabled parking. But generally, I’m okay to park on-site and walk.
Whereas for a lot of disabled and neurodivergent people, the list can be exhaustive:
- Is there disabled parking? How many spaces are available? How close is the parking to the venue?
- Are there steps?
- Are there accessible toilets? Do they have rails? Where are they located in the venue?
- Is there a changing place?
- Does the venue have level access? Is there a ramp? Does the ramp have a railing?
- Are all entrances accessible?
- Are there multiple floors? Is there a stair lift or a lift?
- Will they allow my assistance dog inside?
- I’m hypersensitive to sound – Is the venue loud? Do they have a quiet space? Do they have ear-defenders? Should I bring my own?
- Do they have hearing loops?
Those are just some general questions. But the list can go on, depending on access needs.
Lack of information = heightened access anxiety.
Heightened anxiety = A more difficult / unpleasant experience prior to and during the visit. And this could result in someone who is disabled or neurodivergent not coming to your venue at all.
Additionally, new places can be overwhelming for neurodivergent people. So having limited or no information can perpetuate their anxiety further. Zach, one of our interns at Eric Knows, wrote a fantastic article on how to make your venue more autism friendly.
On the other hand:
Lots of accessibility information = lessened access anxiety.
Lessened anxiety = a much better customer experience before and during the visit.
Ultimately, this will result in a happy, less anxious disabled or neurodivergent person. They’ll then also be more likely to return to your venue.
3. You’re gaining an entirely new customer base that you may have been losing out on otherwise.
This follows on from our last point. If you have little or no accessibility information on your website or social media, the likelihood is that you’ll have little or no disabled custom. Or, at least a lot less than you could have.
The Euan’s Guide Access Survey found that over half of disabled people don’t go to a venue if they haven’t shared their access information. For a lot of disabled or neurodivergent people: if they don’t know, they probably won’t go. Therefore, if they’ve had to go through the first 3 or 4 links on Google to find nearly nothing, they’re likely to seek out a similar venue that has more detailed accessibility information on their website. Because this will make them feel more confident about going.
However, if you choose to put a detailed description of your accessibility features on your website, they’ll feel more confident about coming to your venue. As a byproduct, they’ll be more likely to visit and return. And you’ll get the opportunity to gain an entirely new customer-base that, otherwise, you may have been missing out on.
4. Disabled and Neurodivergent people really appreciate the thoughtfulness and value you’ve shown them by displaying your accessibility information.
Most disabled or neurodivergent people have had the experience of being an afterthought and not a forethought. Factored into plans after everything else is finished. Expected to squeeze themselves in. Displaying your venue’s access information on your website will show them that they are a forethought for your business.
This will demonstrate that you value them. They’ll really appreciate that. I’m disabled and I know I would. By showing them that value, you’re more likely to gain their trust and they’re way more likely to give you their custom. From here, you can develop that trust and relationship. And they’ll be inclined to tell their other disabled and neurodivergent friends about you.
5. It truly reflects the hard work and thought your business has put into making your physical space accessible.
Recently, I was writing a listing for a cafe near where I live. I seemed to remember from my visit that their accessibility features were pretty decent. But I went online to refresh my memory and find the specifics.
I looked on their website and social media – I found nothing. The first piece of access information that I managed to find was a picture of a ramp leading into the venue. However, this was more incidental than deliberate.
After hours of searching their website, social media and listings, I managed to scrape together a picture of their accessibility. Even after all of this, I still had to email them with questions about basic access information. I received their email response promptly and just as I’d thought – their accessibility was pretty good! They had some great features for people with mobility issues, as well as wheelchair and pushchair users.
So, why wasn’t it on their website?
56% of disabled people think that if a venue doesn’t advertise their access facilities, it’s because they don’t have any.
Although, for this venue, that simply wasn’t true. Their facilities were good.
Dear venues – show people the hard work that you’ve put into making your space accessible. Make your venue’s accessibility information visible on your website!
And even if your venue isn’t that accessible and there’s room for improvement, your honesty helps disabled people. It lets them know whether your facilities are suitable for them or not. Or, that they could be, with a few adjustments.
Using this information, Disabled and Neurodivergent people could also advise you on how you could better serve them and become more accessible.
Where do we go from here?
It’s simple; make your venue’s accessibility information visible on your website. Include as much detail as you can, make sure it’s accurate and keep it up to date.
Not sure where to begin? We know it can be daunting. Often, people want to make their venue or business more accessible, but they’re not sure how. At Eric Knows, we want to bridge this information gap so that more disabled and neurodivergent people can access more venues, activities and events.
We do this through providing detailed access information in our Eric Knows venue listings. But we also work with venues, businesses and event organisers to improve their knowledge of accessibility. We do this through our helpful and informative blog posts – such as this one! As well as through our Inclusion Academy, which offers accessibility training and advice to venues in the North-East. We can also signpost you to other specialist disability trainers that we’re connected to.
Leave a comment below if you found this post helpful. And please – don’t hesitate to get in touch with us if you’re a venue wanting accessibility advice
Lastly, we’d like to thank Euan’s Guide for their amazing work on their 2021 access survey.