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'Making our holiday homes disabled-friendly has paid off': Britain's small firms missing out on disabled customers and employees

Britain's small and medium-sized businesses are failing disabled customers and employees and missing out on a consumer market comprising 11 million people - with spending power of £212billion.

The majority of companies are not providing basic services to meet the needs of disabled people, such as lifts, easy-access loos and parking facilities.

Nine out of ten UK small to medium-sized enterprises don't have a lift if they have more than one floor, while 83 per cent aren't accessible to all customers.

A similar amount, 81 per cent, don't have disabled parking spaces, while 74 per cent don't have a ramp or easily accessible toilets.

Disability friendly: Most of the Brown's holiday home log cabins have level access and wet rooms

Disability friendly: Most of the Brown's holiday home log cabins have level access and wet rooms

MAKING OUR BUSINESS ACCESSIBLE HAS PAID OFF

David and Felicity Brown are farmers born and bred but ten years ago they diversified their business and set up Hoe Grange Holiday Homes, on their Peak District farm.

They started out with two log cabins and to make things easier with planning permission they decided to make one of the cabins disability friendly - with level access, wetrooms, wide doorways and other specialist equipment and furniture.

Access for all: Felicity and David Brown welcome all customers at their holiday homes - including dogs

Access for all: Felicity and David Brown welcome all customers at their holiday homes - including dogs

Little did they know then what a big part of their business it would become.

Today, they have four cabins, all offering disabled access, and disabled guests make up almost 70 per cent of their clientele. And the couple couldn't be happier with the loyalty of their guests.

'Our customers can find it difficult to book holiday accommodation they can rely on to be well equipped and easy for them to access.

'Some have told us they've arrived at other locations, only to have to turn round and drive away again simply because the accommodation wasn't as described,' says David.

It's for this reason, and David and Felicity's attention to detail, that their guests come back time and again and many book well in advance, giving the couple time to make plans for their holiday business - which has won several awards for its disabled access.

They want all their guests to be able to make the most of the beauty of the Peak District so they bought an off-road wheelchair to enable visitors with physical disabilities to access the surroundings.

'We welcome everyone - you can even bring your dog or your horse,' adds Felicity.

Barclays, which commissioned the research these findings are taken from, found that only one in ten SMEs provides written communications in braille, 11 per cent audio communication and only a third have signs that are easy to read (in high-contrast and in large type1) despite it being a legal requirement.

Almost a fifth of SME owners say they are unsure as to what the benefit of making their business more inclusive would be and wouldn't know where to start or what adjustments would need to be made if they were to attempt to cater for disabled customers.

One in five owners believe the costs of making their company more accessible would be too high, and 8 per cent say it would be too much hassle.



Read more: http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/smallbusiness/article-3551642/Britain-s-small-firms-missing-disabled-customers-employees.html#ixzz48BrACpWd
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