Microsoft London store image

With the announcement that more than 2,500 organisations are taking part in this year’s Purple Tuesday, organisations and stores from a range of sectors have collectively pledged to make more than 3,500 long-term changes to the customer experience.

Purple Tuesday, an initiative launched by the charity Purple, aims to improve accessibility for disabled people. This year has seen double the number of organisations taking part in the initiative to make lasting and meaningful changes.

Retail giants Sainsbury’s and Argos, which are both participating in Purple Tuesday, have announced a new trial of a weekly ‘Sunflower Hour’ in 30 stores, which involves creating a calmer environment by reducing background noise and sensory overload.

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The trial gives customers the option to pick up a sunflower lanyard which has been purposely designed to act as a discreet sign for store colleagues to recognise if they may need to provide a customer with additional support. Sainsbury’s was the first retailer to trial this initiative in 2018.

Tim Fallowfield, Board Sponsor for Disability Carers and Age at Sainsbury’s and Argos, commented: “We’re proud to show our continued support to Purple Tuesday and believe all our customers should feel confident when shopping, all year round.

“Not all disabilities are visible so by taking steps such as introducing a weekly Sunflower Hour, we hope to provide an enhanced experience and reassurance for our customers.”

Another participant in Purple Tuesday is Microsoft Store, which has committed to educating the community and retail businesses on how to create accessible retail experiences, work environments and improving the lives of customers and employees living with disabilities. The company is also running free customer workshops on accessibility tools and features.

John Carter, Senior Store Manager of the flagship Microsoft Store in London, said: “Technology is a tool for everyone and our products and services are designed for people of all abilities. We are supporting Purple Tuesday’s call to improve the customer experience for disabled people, by inviting retailers to learn how to create accessible experiences and cultivate a diverse and inclusive workplace for customers and employees.

“We will also be running free customer workshops on our accessibility tools and features. From supporting students living with dyslexia to read with confidence, to helping people with limited mobility to write with their voice, we’re calling for everyone to learn how accessibility tools can empower you to achieve more in your life.”

Dundrum Town Centre in Dublin, Ireland, is also participating in Purple Tuesday on the 12th of November. It is holding a number of activities to show its support for disabled customers, including a Special Needs-friendly screening of Shaun the Sheep; a Quiet Room will be open featuring calm lighting, bean bags and toys; new car parking spaces for people with autism will be launched; and a Dementia Mobile Information Service will also be available.

Also demonstrating its support for disabled people, Arsenal FC has a sensory room and sensory sensitive viewing room for people who are autistic or who have sensory needs. Arsenal has also launched its first sensory hour within the club shop and has introduced a bespoke workshop on sensory needs for all match day stewards and other key public facing members of staff, as well as launching a new service for deaf or hard of hearing fans that use British Sign Language and setting up a Disability Forum.

Alun Francis, Arsenal’s Disability Access Officer, said: “We recognise that British Sign Language is most deaf people’s first language. As part of our Arsenal for Everyone programme we are committed to making our services as accessible as possible to everyone. This new service is part of this.

Housing association Midland Heart is also participating in Purple Tuesday. It is showing support for the campaign through various initiatives, such as raising awareness amongst its staff about the different types of disability; introducing a new initiative in its retirement living schemes to ensure clients feel included; and reviewing its current aids and adaptations policy to improve the customer experience.

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