Published on 18 October 2022
Better access for everyone
The Better Access is Better Business program is encouraging tourism operators in the City of Onkaparinga to make their venue or service more accessible and inclusive for all visitors.
Council’s Better Access is Better Business program is aiming to foster business and community awareness of the importance and benefits of accessible and inclusive tourism for people with temporary and permanent disabilities, carers, culturally and linguistically diverse people, and young and older people alike.
As Australia’s population continues to age, there is a growing number of travellers with accessibility needs. Accessible and inclusive tourism ensures that everyone—regardless of age, disability, religion, sexuality or ethnicity—can feel as comfortable and welcome as any other member of the community when visiting venues and services.
The Better Access is Better Business initiative was created through the Local Government Association Information Linkages and Capacity Building grant funding program and developed by council’s Community Capacity section.
Council’s Inclusive Communities Project Officer Andrew Brown says the program was informed by significant engagement with the community.
“People with access and inclusion requirements took part in focus groups and helped identify the types of information they wanted to share with businesses,” Andrew says.
A suite of educational resources has been designed for local business owners and is available on council’s website. The information is designed to support business owners in their thinking about how they can implement simple measures to make their venue or service more accessible and welcoming for everyone.
“This is an important opportunity for businesses, particularly tourism operators, to stand out by offering experiences for all ages, abilities and backgrounds,” Andrew says.
There’s no registration required to take advantage of the program—businesses can start becoming more accessible any time. Moreover, improving access doesn’t need to be difficult or expensive.
“Businesses just need to look at their operation from a different perspective and be versatile in looking for opportunities to adopt what they learn from the program. Start off with something simple to make it easy for people to get around. Ensure clear access to service counters, then build on that. Small changes can make a significant difference to someone with disability,” Andrew says.
One of the most immediate and practical things businesses can do is to focus on inclusive customer service and communication skills across the team.
“By encouraging your staff to be respectful, helpful and welcoming, most people including those with disabilities are more likely to become regular customers and share their experience with others,” Andrew says.
Beach Road Wines at McLaren Vale has embraced accessibility as part of its ethos to “do one thing better every week”, says owner and winemaker Briony Hoare.
“One thing we can do is examine how we make our venue more accessible for everyone,” Briony says.
Among the improvements at Beach Road Wines are recently upgraded bathrooms to include unisex wheelchair-accessible toilets and enlarged writing on menus and signage to make them easier for all patrons to read.
“Our aim is to make Beach Road Wines a friendly and welcoming place for all guests. How we do that is an ongoing conversation we’re having as a team,” Briony says.
The International Day of People with Disability is celebrated each year on 3 December. The United Nations day aims to increase public awareness, understanding and acceptance of people with disability. To learn more visit https://www.idpwd.com.au
Jason and his wife Rebecca with Amy, Briony and Marissa enjoying a wine tasting at Beach Road Wines