We were very interested to read that earlier this month an ASDA store in Manchester announced it would be launching a “disability-friendly” hour for people who feel intimidated or stressed by noise and disturbance.
The manager of the ASDA Living store in Cheetham Hill decided he would open the store an hour early after seeing a boy with autism struggling to cope in a loud, busy shop. For 60 minutes, noise within the store will be kept to a minimum: escalators, TV screens, the PA system and music will be switched off, and store layout maps which use pictures in place of words will be available.
The scheme has been widely praised, with carers and parents endorsing the plans on social media. ASDA has already said that, if the trial goes well, it will roll the “quiet hour” out to other stores. Some have said it will “change lives”, while others are encouraging other chains to take notice and offer a similar service. 755 of people who took part in a local poll in Plymouth, on the other side of the country, said they think their local ASDA should introduce a quiet hour. 86% of people in Belfast thought the same. And a poll by The Independent found that 92% of almost 2,000 people surveyed think it’s a good idea.
Clearly, people want to see businesses cater for people with a variety of needs and none. At ubu we believe strongly that no one is limited in what they can achieve by any disability or needs they may have, but that they may be hampered by social or cultural barriers. The more businesses that look at and learn from ASDA’s initiative, the better.
This news follows a couple of other initiatives designed to raise awareness about the difficulties autistic people may face when going about everyday tasks. The powerful World Autism Awareness Day video released earlier this month was designed to show what it is like to live with autism by conveying the overwhelming experience of a child being led through a shopping centre. The video is part of the National Autistic Society’s Too Much Information campaign, which aims to help people understand a little more about autism and encourage them to respond with more empathy. The Society has been helping businesses across the country work towards our Autism-Friendly Award to make the changes that allow autistic people to do the day-to-day things, like shopping, that the rest of us take for granted.
One store manager at ASDA has taken a bold step, so let’s hope many more will follow his lead … we support these fabulous initiatives!