Latest Disability Today article in The Herald – Let’s all think and spread some festive cheer

Tuesday 12 November was Purple Tuesday, an international call to action, focused on improving the customer experience for disabled people. Across the UK, the Purple Pound – the consumer spending power of disabled people and their families – is worth £249 billion and is rising by an average of 14% per annum. Worldwide, the Purple Pound equates to a staggering £2.25 trillion, yet less than 10% of businesses have a targeted plan to access this disability market.

Tuesday 12th was the second time Eastbourne has seen Purple Tuesday celebrated. Did you go along to The Beacon and take part in our surveys regarding your customer service experiences and accessible toilets facilities. These are still available to do on our website or we can email them to you info@eastbourneaccessgroup.org.uk

The day is celebrated across the country with businesses large and small making changes for improvement in the awareness of the value and needs of disabled customers. It is about making the customer experience accessible.

Of course we all like to feel welcome when we visit shop and businesses but there is also the process of getting there. Whether it is by bus, taxi, train or car the travel experience and customer care here is an important factor too.

This feeling of well being is not exclusively the right of people with disability or impairment, it extends to all members of society but it is often the case that through no fault of their fellow citizens, disabled people can feel disadvantaged. A throng of customers around a market stall or a stampede of an audience leaving a cinema can be more of a challenge for those with a hidden disability. Dementia, autism, visual impairment and learning disability are but a few. In this ever-increasingly fast moving world can we not take time to consider the needs of our fellow shoppers? It costs nothing to allow someone extra time to get their money out. Perhaps an older person in the queue needs a little more time to move forward or a wheelchair user more space to manoeuvre or turn around. Spare a thought for how alarming it must be for a partially-sighted person to be surrounded by a fast moving crowd at the sales. Just pause for a moment and consider how you would like to be respected if you were unable to ‘keep up with the crowd’ especially with the start of the busy Christmas shopping period looming.

Businesses too could think about their stock placement especially at the end of aisles to ensure there is sufficient space for the less able customer to move freely.

As a society we are all too ready to label someone as lacking if they appear to have slower reactions than we expect. Just pause a moment and consider “That could be me in the future”, either by accident or illness, age or a degenerative condition we are all vulnerable. So let’s all spread Christmas cheer as we enter the season of Good Will.

                                                                                            Written by Ian Westgate

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