Last year the Business Disability Forum (BDF) asked 2,500 people with physical, visual and mental impairments about their experiences in customer facing businesses and found that half of those surveyed had left a restaurant, pub or club because of poor understanding of their disability.
With disabled adults spending an average of £40 and parents and carers of disabled people spending an average of £50 during their visit to a restaurant, pub or club, the BDF calculates that the industry is potentially losing £147.8m per month due to lack of awareness.
George Selvanera, director of policy, services and communications at the BDF, said: "People often ask me how they can improve their company’s products and services for disabled customers.
"As a first point of action, businesses should ensure their customer facing staff are skilled and confident in interacting with customers with different disabilities and impairments. This certainly includes people with visible disabilities such as mobility and visual impairments, but it’s also about customer facing staff having the skills with customers with non-visible disabilities such as dementia and mental ill health.
"Businesses should also ensure that the building itself is physically accessible for disabled customers. For example, the availability of ramps for wheelchair users and easy access to disabled toilets.
"In short, it is about building into mainstream service design, empathy for the disabled and older customer and the capacity to personalise services for customers with all types of disabilities.”
The BDF said the impact on a business not catering well for disabled customers could be great with 43 per cent of those surveyed saying their friends and family also hadn't returned to a business because of a negative experience. The figure was even greater (50 per cent) for those with a sensory impairment.
The BDF's Walkaway Pound research forms part of the Extra Costs Commission's report into the extra costs faced by disabled people, which was released on Tuesday (23 June). The report, the result of a year-long inquiry, found that disabled people pay an average of £550 more per month on living costs than non-disabled people.