What is purple Tuesday? Purple Tuesday is a international call to change and improve the consumer experience for people with a disability and today, 12 November 2019, marks its second year.

People with disabilities and their families spend around £249 million pounds in the UK alone and that increases by around 14% every year. Although the shopping experience for people with disability is still a tricky and scary one, for the majority of people shopping is an everyday task that has no boundaries or problems.

As a visually impaired person I find shopping a task that comes with its difficulties – from getting to the shops to the navigation around the shopping area. The majority of shops have good accessibility measures in place like having a member of staff help you around the premises. But unfortunately there are still some shops that struggle to meet disabled people’s needs. With so much money being spent by disabled people why is it still difficult for disabled people to be able to go out and access shops and take in the atmosphere?

Certain shops like Sainsbury’s have started the sunflower advertising campaign and, for those of you who don’t know what this is, the sunflower lanyard campaign is a lanyard with sunflowers on it so that staff members are able to tell if the person has a disability and may need extra support whilst shopping.

While this is a great start, more shops need to be aware of people with disabilities so that they can make me experience of shopping a less worrying experience. So my hope today is that people who work in shops will take a bit of time to think how they can help disabled people when they enter their premises and how they can make their shopping experience a better one.

Here are a few easy things you can do:

  1. Offer to guide the person around the shop: some people may not need this but the offer is a much needed help to people with a visual impairment.

2. Explain to the visually impaired person whilst walking round the shop what you are walking past: most people know what they are after but there may be one or two things that the person has forgot to put on the list and would be very thankful to be reminded.

3. When a visually impaired person is at the checkout, other customers and members of staff should be aware that it may take the visually impaired person a little bit longer to find the right money to give you so just be patient and wait for the visually impaired person to finish.

At a local level, NAB has been working to influence the dining out experience of people with sensory impairments, particularly sight loss. We’ve partnered with the Carlsberg UK Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards to introduce a new ‘Dining for All’ award which recognises those restaurants, pubs and cafes who not only serve exceptional food, but also go the extra mile for people with sight loss. The winner of our first ever award will be presented this Thursday (14 November) at the Royal and Derngate by my good self! More details to follow….