Asda is introducing a ‘quieter hour’ in which noise levels will be reduced to help shoppers with hidden disabilities such as autism.
The quieter hour will last from 2pm to 3pm on Mondays to Thursdays, with the aim of making stores more accessible to customers with hidden disabilities and additional needs.
The initiative is launching tomorrow to coincide with ‘Purple Tuesday’, a campaign that highlights challenges that disabled people can face and calls for action to improve customer service.
Asda is also sponsoring Purple Tuesday 365, an annual learning subscription service that helps organisations and their staff access knowledge and practical approaches for providing better experiences for disabled people. The sponsorship provides Asda staff with access to a monthly webinar on disability-related topics.
The supermarket today said it had also carried out extra training of 85,000 staff with the aim of better serving disabled people through the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Scheme. The scheme provides a symbol people can wear to indicate they have a hidden disability.
Asda is also updating its online store locator to improve accessibility information on toilets, changing places, braille and hearing loops.
“There are an estimated 14.1 million people with a disability living in the UK, and 80% of disabilities are hidden, so we hope that by introducing quieter times for customers to shop we will be able to make our stores more welcoming and inclusive for customers with additional needs,” said Mark Simpson, Asda chief supply chain officer and exec sponsor for disability.
Purple CEO Mike Adams said: “To change the disability conversation requires organisations to take all their colleagues on the journey, through knowledge, understanding, new approaches and confidence.
“Asda is doing exactly that and is the ideal partner to take everyone else with us.”
Paul White, CEO of the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Scheme, said: “Grocery shopping can be an exhausting and stressful experience, even more so if you are disabled.
“Sunflower wearers that visit Asda can feel confident they will be recognised by staff and will be given extra care, time and patience.”
Asda plans to mark Purple Tuesday by turning its logo and social media icons purple.