Many take for granted being able to pop into a shop or supermarket, but shopping can be challenging and, at times, impossible for people with disabilities.
Last week saw the launch of Purple Tuesday, the UK’s first day dedicated to accessible shopping. Tuesday 13th November will see retailers across the country – and the internet – introducing measures to make shopping more inclusive.
75% of disabled people and their families have walked away from a shop or left a website due to poor access and/or poor customer service.
The ‘purple pound’
It’s the initiative of the disability organisation Purple. They will be encouraging retailers to look at how they can benefit their disabled customers through adjustments in store or online, and staff training.
While they want to make every day a ‘purple’ day, they recognise that time and resources are needed to make lasting change. But there is a sound business case for increasing inclusivity.
Estimates put the collective spending power of disabled people and their families (the ‘Purple Pound’) at £249bn.
The group of organisations that make up the launch committee include major high street retailers and the owners of some of the UK’s most prominent shopping locations.
As an assistive listening technology provider, Contacta is the only organisation outside of the retail industry to have been invited to participate.
This is partly because of our expertise. Our marketing development director, Andrew Thomas, is the chair of the International Hearing Loop Manufacturers Association (IHLMA). He’s also a member of the British Standards committee that developed a code of practice for creating inclusive environments in public spaces.
It’s also because of our experience in creating those environments on the high street and in retail parks for people with hearing loss. Customers at major supermarkets, coffee shops and fashion retailers are able to communicate with staff much more easily because of the hearing loops we have installed at counters and till points.
The hidden disability
We will be making sure the needs of customers with hearing loss are considered alongside those of people with more visible disabilities.
There is clearly a job to do in raising awareness of the impact hearing loss can have on the shopping experience.
It would be unusual these days to see wheelchair access considered as a ‘worthy cause’ yet this piece in the Worcester News considers hearing loops – which are woefully absent from the city centre – as something that can be dismissed because of the costs involved.
It’s attitudes like these which Purple Tuesday will seek to change.