Accessibility shouldn’t be overlooked as venues rush to reopen, experts warn


Experts have called for bars, restaurants, hotels and retailers to consider the accessibility of their stores, venues and facilities when reopening, warning that the needs of disabled customers are often overlooked in the ‘new normal’.

As hospitality businesses start to reopen and stores trading again, shops and venues must be aware of how new distancing measures of safety protocols will impact disabled consumers.

Research by disability charity, Purple, revealed that three-quarters (75%) of disabled people have had to leave a physical store because they were unable to finish a purchase due to their disability.

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Some of the most common examples of hard to navigate distancing measures include, traffic-light based systems, floor markers, bathroom queuing systems and contactless payment only signs.

Now user experience (UX) and digital agency, Sigma, is calling for venues to give greater consideration to their new designs or in-store layouts and safety measures.

Hilary Stephenson, managing director at user experience (UX) agency, Sigma, said: “Retailers have done brilliant work in recent years to welcome those of all abilities in-store, however these efforts face being voided as temporary distancing measures are put in place. For example, colour coded floor markers and new guidelines stuck in windows cannot be seen by those with sight impairments, and guide dogs do not understand distancing measures.

“Following government advice, the responsibility is now on all businesses, whatever their size or sector, to ensure their services are accessible – as nearly one in five people in the UK has a disability or impairment. Things have been tough for everyone during the past few months, however we shouldn’t abandon accessibility for all in the race to reopen. Better accessibility should not be an option, or consideration in hindsight, it should be a central customer experience consideration from the start.”

Tags : accessibilitydisabilityhospitalityreopeningretailshoppingshops
Zoe Monk

The author Zoe Monk

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