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Top 10 tips for retailers to make stores better for disabled shoppers

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Purple Tuesday took place across the UK yesterday and highlighted the need for retailers across sectors to take measures to cater better for disabled shoppers.

Even some mobility stores, which specifically target people with reduced mobility, have some way to go before making themselves completely accessible.

User experience design agency, Sigma, has come up with 10 adjustments retailers can make to encourage more spend from disabled shoppers.

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The recommended adjustments are:    

  1. Shoppers with cognitive impairments, like dementia or autism, can find loud, busy and bright environments overwhelming. Retailers should consider creating quiet zones or holding a ‘Quiet Hour’ once a week. This involves turning down music, dimming lights and reducing the amount of noise in store as much as possible.
  2. Implement a lanyard scheme so staff can identify those who may need additional support. 
  3. Allow individuals to skip queues if necessary.
  4. Ensure there is wheelchair access throughout the store, for example by installing ramps.
  5. Do not clutter the shop floor and impede access.
  6. Where possible, include lowered till points or more accessible areas in which transactions can take place.
  7. Adapt for the blind by providing braille signs.
  8. Ensure you are guide dog friendly and having trained staff on hand to guide passengers through the store if needed. 
  9. Help those with hearing loss by ensuring that all messaging announced over speakers – for example, promotions or customer notices – are clearly communicated in other ways. 
  10. Implement hearing loops

Hilary Stephenson, managing director of Sigma, said: “Accessibility within public, leisure and event spaces is something that many of us take for granted. However, for millions of people across the UK with disabilities, even simple trips to the shops – or shopping for products online – can be filled with unnecessary difficulty, confusion and apprehension. 

“This was evident in our recent research, which highlighted a worrying lack of accessibility awareness across a range of UK leisure, transport and tourism venues.

“We found a quarter of businesses could not accommodate for those in wheelchairs, and a third were unable to accommodate for those with a cognitive impairment like autism. It’s also not just about what retailers do in store; digital design is as important and many websites are also falling short in this regard. 

“Initiatives such as Purple Tuesday are a fantastic step forward for the 13.9 million people in the UK of ranging ability and condition. However, inclusion should be an everyday consideration – it’s not enough to take accessibility seriously for one day a year and leave it at that.”

Tags : accessibilityDesignpurple tuesdayretail
Joe Peskett

The author Joe Peskett

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