If businesses want to gain input from people with disabilities, their research and consultation practices should be accessible to these customers. Some examples of accessibility considerations for gathering feedback from customers with disabilities:
• Customer surveys must be accessible to people who are blind or who have low vision. This may be accomplished by producing the survey in alternate formats (e.g., Braille, large print, or an electronic format) for independent use by customers or by providing an assistant who can read the survey to a participant and record his or her responses.
• Product usability interviews with customers who are hard of hearing or deaf may require the use of an assistive listening system or the services of sign language or oral interpreters.
• If businesses require complaints to be filed at customer service desks, the desks must be accessible to people who use mobility devices (e.g., the desk must be on an accessible route and have a writing surface at the required height or a clipboard available for people who use wheelchairs).
• Training provided for mystery shoppers with disabilities has to be provided in an accessible location and communicated in an accessible manner for all participants.
• Focus groups that include people who are hard of hearing or deaf may need to enlist the services of a realtime captioner to ensure that there is effective communication among all parties. As a secondary benefit, this service can provide a verbatim transcript of the session’s discussion for follow-up research purposes.
Customers with disabilities can be assets to a business if it is willing to make the necessary investment to listen. Input from these customers not only can help businesses comply with the ADA but also develop creative, innovative customer service policies and practices as well as product and facility designs.