Authors Nicola Griffith (So Lucky) and Kate Ristau (Clockbreakers) and bookseller Annie Carl (The Neverending Bookshop) presented at last week's Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association on the ways that increasing accessibility can result in higher profits for booksellers.
Starting from the CDC's estimate that one in four Americans has a disability that impacts major life activities, the trio reasoned that if your bookstore is not accessible, then those 61 million people might not be able to shop there.
The three presented a series of recommendations for improving physical and sensory accessibility, summarized both on Griffith's site and as an easy-reference PDF.
Level entry. No stairs, of course, but also no lip: even 1″ can be insurmountable. (In ascending order of expense and difficulty: if you do have a threshold lip, you can buy heavy duty rubber threshold raps/mats online for just lips 1″- 2.5″ for around $100, depending on brand and size. If you have outside steps, you can buy and install a Garaventa wheelchair lift like the one at Elliott By Book Company–this is what I have at my house; I found it secondhand for less than $7,000.)
Accessible counter height at point-of-purchase. (If if would cost too much to replace your splendid, chest-high edifice, just add a low table to one end that someone in a wheelchair can see over. And clear space at one end for someone to approach from the side.)
Reading nook w/space for a wheelchair (because people in wheelchairs, too, like to settle in and take a deeper look at a potential purchase without being banged into or bothered)
Accessible bathroom on ground floor or accessible via elevator (one small thing you could do immediately: install grab bars in a stall).
(Image: Bluestockings, New York, NY)