How British Supermarkets have Adjusted for Those with Disabilities

With more than 13.9m people in the UK living with a disability, and rising, provisions to assist those individuals has never been more crucial. In the workplace, adjustments such as flexible working hours, the provision of adjustable equipment, and voice command software have all been implemented by employers throughout the country to aid those living and working with disability.

In day-to-day life, companies across the board have, either through gesture or by law, have made numerous amendments to make working life more accessible.

Lenny White, a Northern Irish barber, offers a dementia barbering service. The barber helps by cutting the hair of those who suffer from the debilitating mental illness. Wanting to create an empowering experience for sufferers, Lenny plays Elvis music helping to create a relaxing experience.

Meanwhile, UK airports, which can often prove an incredibly daunting experience for someone with autism, have now introduced both quite rooms and routes. This helps to create a better overall journey and make it as stress-free as possible. Manchester Airport has introduced a system that fast-tracks families travelling with autistic children.

But, what about the more periodic experiences? Of course, virtually every supermarket in the UK now offers a home delivery service. However, going to the shops is something all of us love to do — it’s somewhat of a social gathering and how else would we be able to take advantage of the ‘big rollbacks’?

Along with Lookers, who stock the all-new, Audi E Tron, we analyse the UK’s most accessible supermarkets for disabled people.

As of February 2018, the UK played home to a staggering number of supermarkets:

  • 2,652 Tesco stores
  • 1,412 Sainsbury’s stores
  • 750 Aldi stores
  • 700 Lidl stores
  • 646 Asda stores
  • 491 Morrisons stores
  • 353 Waitrose stores

 That is a lot of stores throughout the country, but what they done to aid their disabled customers?

Tesco’s Dementia-Friendly Checkouts

As of 2015, Tesco became the first supermarket to introduce dementia-friendly checkouts in the stores.

The shop in Chester launched their new system during Dementia Awareness week in May 2015, working in conjunction with Andy Tysoe, a memory nurse at a local hospital.

The checkout, which is in the centre aisle of the store, features dementia-friendly logos to help guide sufferers. Meanwhile, coin identifiers were pictured around the checkouts, helping customers to distinguish what each coin was and how much it valued. This was something a number of the staff at the supermarket had recognised was a problem.

Colleagues were also provided with additional training in regard to assisting customers with dementia, helping them establish the necessary skills required for support.

Morrisons’ Autism Hour

The National Autistic Society suggests the implementation of an autism hour, once a week, in Morrisons stores across the country “is a step in the right direction”.

The 491 supermarket chain stores across the country turn the music off, refrain from using the tannoy, dim the lights, and reduce the volume of the check outs to create the most calming shopping experience for their customers.

Considering more than 1 in 100 people in the UK are living with autism, launching such a measure is an incredibly useful introduction.

Outside the stores, DMUK (Disability Motoring UK) reported that on average there are 15 disabled parking spaces. However, one in five of these is often being taken up by someone without a blue badge. Morrisons performed the most favourably in this department, with 10 per cent of their spaces being taken up by those who not displaying a badge. Tesco, alternatively, performed the worst, with 24 per cent of their spaces being used.

ASDA’s Toilet Signs

Back in 2016, ASDA challenged the conventional norm when it introduced its new disabled signs to its toilets.

Typically, the toilet signs would sport a male, a female, and a person in a wheelchair, identifying the disabled toilet. However, on ASDA’s signs, they included all three on the toilet door, accompanied by the phrase: “Not every disability is visible.”

Unfortunately, it exists as a common and arrogant assumption that all disabilities must be something that can be seen, such as someone who requires the use of a wheelchair — displayed on the average sign. However, as we are all aware, this is not the case.

ASDA commented on the introduction: “Knowing that disability or illness can be incredibly wide-ranging and often manifests in lots of different ways for different people, we’ve updated our signs in the hope of making our facilities far more inclusive.”

M&S’s Sunflower Lanyard

In September 2019, Marks & Spencer, which is ranked as one of Britain’s most trusted brands, introduced the sunflower lanyard scheme.

The companies retail director, Sacha Berndiji, noted: “As we work hard to transform M&S, we remain committed to being the UK’s most accessible retailer for customers — however, wherever, and whenever they want to shop — it all matters.”

The scheme, which involved the training of 80,000 staff across the UK, has been rolled out to help the variety of individuals living with a non-visible disability such as autism or hearing or visual impairments.

One store manager commented on the fact it will prove particularly beneficial in the build up to Christmas — the most chaotic time of the year for retailer.

Catering to the needs of those living in the UK suffering with disability should be high on the agenda of every business. However, Business Disability Forum, also noted that 75 per cent of disabled customers or their family would not return to a brand due to their failure to understand their situation. Therefore, whether it be introducing lanyard style systems that the likes of M&S has, or using more stringent parking measures to prevent people from parking in disabled spaces, it is in the best interest of the supermarket to support all of their customers.

Sources

https://businessdisabilityforum.org.uk/media-centre/newsletter/archive/2015/august-2015/tesco-becomes-first-supermarket-to-introduce-dementia-friendly-checkouts/

https://www.statista.com/statistics/920074/number-of-stores-of-supermarkets-united-kingdom-uk/

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-44884183

https://www.retailgazette.co.uk/blog/2019/09/ms-presents-sunflower-lanyards-support-customers-disabilities/
https://www.retailgazette.co.uk/blog/2019/09/ms-presents-sunflower-lanyards-support-customers-disabilities/
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