How improving accessibility can boost the bottom line

A fractured view of people in a public space

How improving accessibility can boost the bottom line

Businesses can open their doors to thousands more customers by offering tools to assist people with language impairments
November 7, 2018

For the thousands of Ontarians living with aphasia — a language disorder that impairs the ability to communicate — something as simple as buying a movie ticket can be a real struggle. However, thanks to training from Aphasia Friendly Canada, 20 businesses — and counting — in Windsor and Essex County in southwestern Ontario are better equipped to serve them.

That includes Lakeshore Cinemas near Tecumseh, Ont. “[This training has] provided [my staff] with more tools to handle those communication challenges with confidence,” says assistant manager Chelsea Reaume. “We’ve had a lot of compliments on our customer service.”

“If you have aphasia and you need to go get your hair cut, you’re more likely to go to a place that’s aphasia-friendly.”

Developed by Lori Buchanan and a team of researchers at the University of Windsor, the program educates businesses about aphasia and develops resources, such as “YES/NO” cards and modified menus, to make accessing services easier for people with language impairments.

Under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, all businesses in the province will need to be aphasia-friendly by 2025, but for Buchanan, improving accessibility also just makes good business sense. “If you have aphasia and you need to go get your hair cut, you’re more likely to go to a place that’s aphasia-friendly,” she says. “If you want coffee, you’re going to go to the aphasia-friendly Tim Hortons.”

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