Purple Tuesday: Making the accessible amend

The way we interact with services and purchase goods has drastically changed throughout 2020, and Purple Tuesday is helping organisations to make their customer services and digital platforms accessible.

Now three year’s old, Purple Tuesday is a call to action or businesses to improve their customer experience for disabled people and their families, both commercial and socially.

Disabled people and their families have a spending power of £274billion which isn’t always tapped in to by businesses; it is estimated that only 10 per cent of businesses in the UK have a strategy to access this market. This is a stark construct to the 75 per cent of disabled people that have left a store or online shop due to poor customer service or poor accessibility.

“I think what COVID-19 has and will continue to demonstrate are two major things. One is the fact that for so many businesses and digital platforms, basic access is still not in place,” explains Mike Adams, founder of Purple Tuesday.

“Disabled people have felt more isolated than other groups during lockdown and much of that is to do with the fact that accessibility fo websites is poor, but many basic issues can be resolved at no cost overnight.”

Changes

Taking place today (3 November), this year’s Purple Tuesday theme is Make the Amend, Mike says: “It takes practices from hose who have made it a success in previous years and deploys that in [an] organisation rather than [businesses] thinking they have to create something and be innovative.”

The main catalyst behind this theme is the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which has left many businesses without the staffing or facilities to put new ideas into practice. Activities surrounding Purple Tuesday are now taking place online, this included a livestream of Piccadilly Circus turning purple, but the biggest change is the increase in participants.

Last year, around 2,500 organisations took part in the day, rising to 4,000 today.

“We’ve got nearly 4,000 examples of practices that have been used by organisations that we have worked with across all sectors and sixes before,” reveals Mike. “We have stuck to it being free to participate and all we ask is that an organisation makes at least one commitment to change their practice around something in the next 12 months.”

Expectations

From buying food and clothing to products and insurances, online shopping is increasingly becoming the premier way to purchase goods and services, making accessibility more important than ever before.

“I suspect online shopping will become more and more the norm, if it does and websites become the gateway to doing this, then we must make sure that the gat isn’t closed from 22 per cent of the population in the UK who have a disability,” stresses Mike.

In a time when regaining the trust and support of consumers is essential to businesses’ survival, Purple Tuesday isn’t just about making organisations accessible for disabled customers.

“I really do think that there is a need to connect and re-connect with disabled customers who have struggled during lockdown, this is a way of showing organisations’ social impact, which is going o become important as well as the bottom line,” emphasises Mike.

“More customers both disabled and non-disabled are really quite clear about what they expect from brands and this is a demonstration of their social impact and commitment to diversity and inclusion.”

This year, using tried and tested solutions, the day proves organisations with an opportunity to open up the disability market at no extra cost, resulting in increased customers and an increased income stream during a difficult time for the economy.

Proactive

There is no one better to support businesses in putting in the right solutions than disabled customers themselves, that’s why this year’s Purple Tuesday theme is encouraging organisations to be proactive with tried and tested solutions.

“There is so much good practice out there and you just adopt something that is already proven to work,” encourages Mike. “Last year a lot of staff in organisations, particularly front-line staff, taught themselves hello and goodbye in British Sign Language and that was really impactful for the D/deaf community.

“The update in staff that enjoyed doing that meant they wanted to learn more than two or three words.”

A method which has been popular in recent years is the introduction fo the sunflower lanyard scheme within spaces open to the public like supermarkets and train stations.

The scheme allows people with hidden disabilities to wear a sunflower printed lanyard so staff know they might need assistance and can proactively offer help.

“We are now also seeing adoption of not every disability is visible signage on things like car parking spaces and accessible toilets,” reveals Mike.

“Those are some of the straightforward things to do and can be done by simply putting in signage, we know how it works and what needs to be done,” reassures Mike. “We have top tips on broad changes organisations an make to their websites to become more accessible too.”

The nearly 4,000 practices that Purple Tuesday are showcasing can work for any sector and any organisations, big or small, but a lot are just simple tweaks, Mike says: “In many ways what you apply is a level of common sense and most organisations do provide a good customer experience, they just need to think about how that works for people with different impairments.”

As employers are being urged to put more accessible practices in place, it is hoped that services become more accessible both on and offline.

To help spread the word about Purple Tuesday or to see how your organisation can get involved for free, click here, or take a look at #PurpleTuesday on social media to see how others are making the amend.

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