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Breaking Barriers | Creating an Inclusive Experience for Disabled Clients

December 01, 2023

Whilst visiting the salon is an enjoyable and anticipated activity for most, for those with mental, sensory and physical disabilities it can be a daunting and often uncomfortable experience.

With more than 15 percent of the population neurodiverse, and over 16 million Brits living with disabilities, ensuring that your facilities and services are accessible to all is crucial. Ahead of International Day of Disabled Persons, we sat down with Alice Dawkins, Hair Expert at Milk + Blush, to find out how salons can make their services and environments more accessible and welcoming to neurodivergent and disabled clients.

Consider Salon Accessibility:

Prioritising salon accessibility is paramount to foster inclusivity and meet the needs of a diverse range of clients. Salons should be equipped with ramps, spacious entryways and easy navigation to accommodate individuals with mobility challenges.

The hair styling space itself should also have plenty of room for mobility aids like wheelchairs, scooters and walkers, as well as having disability-friendly hair washing stations so that services are not limited by needs.

Including these features in salon designs and layouts will demonstrate understanding of the struggles experienced by those with disabilities, and appeal to a broader customer base.

Adapt Services to Meet Sensory Challenges:

For neurodiverse individuals, the normal salon experience can be incredibly overwhelming as some may have heightened sensitivities to sound, light and touch. Tailoring the salon environment to work for people with these sensitivities will make the experience much more enjoyable.

For example, consider opting for lighting that can be easily adjusted, and allow in as much natural light as possible. Music and general noise should be kept to a minimum and services adapted to help clients cope.

One stylist shared on TikTok how she accommodates clients with sensory issues by discussing any triggers ahead of an appointment, as well as providing solutions like covering the ears and face with a towel while washing hair, tying a gown loosely and booking appointments during quieter periods.

Non-verbal clients will also benefit from visual supports, like clear signage, labelling and service offerings that cater to diverse communication styles and help them feel understood. Offering flexible scheduling to suit different needs also demonstrates a commitment to providing customised services and enhancing the experience.

Provide Staff Training:

In order for  hair professionals to adapt their services to work for different people, they must first be provided with the right training.

Sensitivity training and education about specific disabilities and conditions like autism, ADHD and mental health disorders can equip stylists with a deeper understanding that will help them to be more empathetic and patient during appointments.

By educating stylists about various disabilities, sensory sensitivities and communication preferences, they can tailor their approach to provide a personalised and comfortable experience.

Fostering empathy, patience and open-mindedness will enable staff to engage with clients in a respectful and supportive manner. This can not only enhance the quality of service but also create a salon culture that acknowledges and prioritises diversity and accessibility.

Offer Consultations and Encourage Feedback:

Some hair salons offer complimentary consultations ahead of an appointment, but this should be the norm for all businesses. In order to truly personalise the client experience, stylists must use the opportunity to understand the unique needs and preferences of the individual.

Actively seeking feedback is also important as it allows salons to illustrate their commitment to continuously improving services. An open line of communication allows clients to express their concerns, share their experiences and contribute to a more inclusive salon environment.

Through regular feedback, the salon can make necessary adjustments, refine its services, and create a space where all clients, regardless of their disabilities or neurodivergent status, feel heard, valued and fully accommodated.

Prioritise Inclusive Marketing and Representation:

Diversifying marketing efforts to make sure that all kinds of clients are represented is pivotal for solidifying a salon’s reputation, particularly as an inclusive business. By showcasing a range of clients, including those with disabilities and neurodivergent conditions, the salon communicates its commitment to inclusivity and helping clients feel seen, valued and confident.

Inclusive marketing also helps to break down barriers and destigmatise disabilities and neurodiversity to contribute to a more open-minded community. This reinforces the notion that everyone, regardless of challenges and disabilities, is deserving of an accommodating and enjoyable salon experience.