Adapting your business for disabled customers to successfully socially distance.

12/06/2020

In the UK alone, the consumer spending power of 13.8 million disabled people and their families – the Purple Pound – equates to £249 billion a year and rising at 14% per annum. 

This presents a great opportunity for businesses to adapt their model now and engage with those customers who need a little more assistance whilst shopping in your stores.

There are three fundamental standards needed to ensure economic and social recovery plans are inclusive.  They are:

  • Ensuring social distancing measures of the built environment are accessible for disabled employees, customers, residents and visitors.
  • Ensuring all digital communications, including websites, have a foundation level of accessibility in place as a minimum.
  • Including inclusive approaches to customer service as part of all new training programmes for staff.

Other considerations regarding your building:

  • Ensure accessible / disabled toilets remain open for those with disabilities only and are not included in your wider strategy to alleviate pressure on toilet access due to the impacts of social distancing and queuing.
  • Consider providing seating in areas where social distance queues are likely to form.
  • Provide disabled visitors with a Sunflower Lanyard to help identify those with hidden disabilities using your space and who may need additional support.
  • Ensure that Plexiglas or Perspex screens have contrasting markers to ensure they are visible to people with visual impairments or cognitive difficulties.

If implementing a ‘Hot Desking’ strategy to support a move to more flexible and remote working practices, you should consider the impact on employees with Autism and Asperger’s who may find constant change very unsettling. Therefore consider, keeping some desks static for those employees.

All organisations will have some form of recovery plan and will need to refresh their customer service training for staff to make the ‘new normal’ work.  Disability needs to be integrated into this training rather than viewed as an extra.  This should cover general awareness, language and etiquette and can be as straightforward as including customers with differing impairments as case studies or examples.

More information can be found at https://wearepurple.org.uk/

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