The Business Case for Low Vision
In a piece written by Visualise Training who are providing the Beyond Seeing Seminars around the UK for Opticians they highlight some simple facts and tips for Optical Practice Teams led by Optometrists and their staff in a series of Clinical Briefings.
When youíre in business, itís often tempting to think only in the majority, dismissing those who may not fit into the Ďmost peopleí bracket as too expensive to cater for, and therefore affecting vital profit margins. Assumptions abound. People with low vision will have assistants and you will give a cheerful smile, apologise, and do your best to help.
But any good business owner should know, itís when you embrace the wider sphere that you often win far more reward. And reputation precedes a business owner. It is gold dust.
Itís the biz
Even optometrists can fall wide of the mark when it comes to offering services for low vision customers. First, be aware of what is required. Forget lots of sympathy and apologies and become business-minded and practical. That doesnít mean being brusque and abrupt, but showing you care, with empathy and engagement. Be engaging and understanding but not over sympathetic and demeaning.
Welcome customers with low vision, and with the right approach, making them feel they are coming into a comfortable environment. Donít try to avoid common expressions like, ĎSee you laterí or, ĎNice to see you againí which will make you sound nervous, alienating people. Create a positive and relaxed experience for both business and customer from the outset, which will always help raise your profile and lift profits.
Business is booming
Give thought to how you deliver your service to those with low vision. Getting familiar with the Equality Act may be a good place to start.
Consider offering staff visual impairment awareness training and arrange an access audit of your premises. Many people without sight loss, wheelchair users, and mums and dads with pushchairs, will all welcome ease of access. You will attract customers too with your forward-thinking, inclusive approach.
People with sight loss or limited vision need to be able to get around, not be expected to bump around. They may be independent and unaccompanied, and when a customer feels valued, they return and tell their friends.
Many adaptations are low cost, such as a hand rail on stairways, clear signs, using contrasting colours and markings for steps or other obstacles.
And donít forget glass doors, a partially sighted personís nightmare.
Business as usual
Having low vision doesnít mean you donít need the same information as anyone else. Offer brochures or instructions in large print and Braille. A magnifier is a must-have for many people with limited vision, but it isnít always available at opticians or not in a very wide range. The same applies to sunglasses. Offer a high-quality range with different tints and watch the customers coming back for more.
There have been great advances in assistive technology for low vision patients, from video magnifiers to large print phones, and word of mouth spreads fast in business. Stocking simple optical aids can also make a big difference.
Adjustable lamps are a great help. Carefully consider aspects such as glare, sunlight, artificial light, combination and directed lighting. These can all make a huge difference to visual comfort and safety and will keep customers returning and referring.
Home is where the business is
Offering a home visit for patients with a visual impairment will be popular with many, including elderly people and welcomed by families who may feel obliged to give up a dayís work to help a relative.
Off to market
Update your marketing strategy. Itís fine to advertise to the general public but more focused areas such as health clinics and surgeries, local support groups and hospital areas where patients with low vision will visit regularly, is likely to bring in more customers who are seeking a modern, access-aware optometrist.
By Daniel Williams, Man on a Mission with Low Vision
Visualise Training and Consultancy have developed an innovative resource pack making it easier to refer patients to sight loss services.
Download your free copy here
This article is part of a group of Clinical Briefings written by Visualise-Training & Consultancy
Other Links are:
Cuts to Low Vision Services
Keeping abreast of assistive services
Supporting Low Vision Patients who can no longer drive
My Guide Dog in his shining armour
Seven ways to make Low Vision Services pay
Making Optical Services available to Low Vision Patients.
Sight Loss shouldn't mean Job Loss
Disempowered at the Eye Clinic
What more can be done for Lucy?