Making your practice more accessible, part 2

In my first article in February, I explained that while accessibility is the right thing to do, it is also the smart thing to do – embracing accessibility provides an opportunity to grow your business through tapping into what we at Be.Lab call ‘the access market’. Here, I look at ways to make simple accessibility changes to increase your customer base, brand loyalty and revenue.


Who is accessibility for?

Accessibility in healthcare is crucial, and an increasing number of healthcare practices are realising that there’s more they could do to ensure all patients can access their services and are welcomed onto their premises. The latest Statistics NZ Disability survey shows that more than 40% of people with a disability have multiple impairments, and this statistic increases significantly with people over the age of 65. So it’s likely that your existing customer base has access needs beyond their visual impairments. By ensuring your practice is accessible, you’ll better serve these customers.


You’ll also welcome a new market into your practice – the access market. This group includes the one in four New Zealanders who have an access need or disability, older customers who develop access needs as they age, and their friends and family who are loyal to businesses which are accessible. A bonus is that many accessibility improvements will also benefit customers who don’t have any disabilities or access needs beyond their visual impairments.


What is accessibility?

Accessibility is not just about physical accessibility, signage and ramps, although of course these are very important too. It’s also about accessibility of information, online processes and culture. In fact, a recent survey showed that the top two key factors in accessibility are welcoming customer service and accessible online information (Access 2020 Survey, Cogo). The good news is this means you can make simple, inexpensive changes that will greatly increase the accessibility of your practice. Here’s Be. Lab’s easy checklist to make your practice welcoming to all customers.


10 things to increase the accessibility of your practice

  1. Make a commitment to improving the accessibility of your practice and align it with your business strategy. You’re more likely to follow through, not only because it's the right thing to do to be inclusive, but also because you know it’s good for your business
  2. Have a conversation with all your staff about this commitment, explaining why accessibility is important to your business. Make the conversation part of your induction and training process. To reap the benefits, it’s essential that all staff are on board and share your commitment
  3. Ensure all staff are confident in understanding the diversity of the access customer and different needs. This includes visual impairment/blindness, mobility needs, hearing impairments/deafness, and neurodiversity
  4. Consider the accessibility of your practice right now. Are you able to welcome customers with different access needs, for example, those using mobility aids, wheelchairs or mobility scooters? Is your equipment moveable to allow customers using wheelchairs to remain in their wheelchair instead of transferring to a chair or bed?
  5. Ensure your customers can easily access information about your practice. Consider:
    • Does the website have a simple layout?
    • Is the font simple and easy to read?
    • Is there a strong colour contrast between text and background?
    • Do your images have image descriptions?
    • Over 50% of customers research businesses on their phones, so don’t forget to check how the font appears on the mobile version of your website
    • Are there multiple contact options (such as phone and e-mail, or even Zoom, or live chat) and are these easy to find? Not all customers will be tech-savvy, so may prefer to get in touch by phone. Hearing-impaired customers may prefer to contact you via e-mail or live chat, or they may prefer to access interpreter services.
  6. Have an easy-to-find page on your website with information about the accessibility of your practice. This could include information such as where the nearest mobility parking is, if the footpath outside is inclined or level, if there is a threshold step or steps into your premises or a ramp and if your examination rooms and toilets can accommodate wheelchair users
  7. Include accessibility questions in your new-customer questionnaire and add an alert on their patient file that reminds you of any mobility assistance needed, a hearing impairment, their preferred means of communication, or what format they will need information presented in (eg. large print or digital documents)
  8. Have multiple options for making bookings. If you use an online system, ensure it is accessible and includes phone and e-mail options (video calling options are preferred by some customers, so include this if you can).
  9. Considering the physical access of your practice, you are working with an existing building so there will be limitations to what you can achieve immediately, but you can ensure spaces are uncluttered and that accessible toilets and entrances are not used as storage spaces. Where there are barriers to physical access, make sure this information is included on the accessibility page of your website
  10. Ensure accessibility is included and prioritised in your business planning and strategy going forward. You may not be able to achieve full accessibility today, but committing to the journey is a powerful step


Where to next?


Once you’ve checked these things, a great next step is to complete Be. Lab’s free online accessibility assessment ( This will give you an accessibility report, celebrating what you’re already doing well and showing how you can improve.


You can also check the Be. Lab website for free resources to help you better understand how to improve the accessibility of your business. Remember, you’re not alone; we’re here to give advice, resources and support if you need it.



Lauren Wetini is a business relationship manager at Be. Lab. (formerly Be. Accessible), which was founded in 2011 to support individuals, businesses and communities to provide greater accessibility. She has 10 years’ experience as both an assessor and project manager in the accessibility space and is passionate about people and making the world a better place. Contact to discuss your business’ specific accessibility needs, or visit  


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