Purple Tuesday: Small changes can make a big difference

11 Nov 2019

Policy area: Diversity and Inclusivity

The understanding of accessibility and inclusion is changing rapidly throughout the business world.  No longer is disability associated only with ramps and lifts, but serious consideration is being given to websites, noise and spaces, and in supporting staff with good customer service for disabled people and their families.

It is great to see property organisations at the forefront of this change through their participation in initiatives such as Purple Tuesday.

Purple Tuesday is an international call to action focused on changing the customer experience for disabled people. It calls on organisations from all sectors and sizes, to take decisive practical actions to meet the needs of disabled customers. Purple Tuesday is part of Purple’s vision for organisations to see disability as an opportunity – both in terms of existing and potential employees and customers – and to be part of addressing the inequality that exists for disabled people through increasing the accessibility of everything they do.

Each participating organisation has to make a minimum of one new commitment to improve the customer experience of disabled people. This year over 2,000 organisations have made over 3,500 commitments ranging from:

  • Undertaking an access audit of physical premises. For many this is forming an integral part of the reconfiguration of existing assets and improvements that can be made.
  • An accessibility review of the main website which, for many individuals, is the initial gateway into the organisation. Most barriers can be removed very quickly and at no cost. To review the accessibility of your organisation’s website, take the ‘no mouse’ navigation test.  Unplug your mouse and see how far you get just using the keyboard.  This will provide a raw barometer of your site.
  • Encourage your frontline staff to learn hello and goodbye in British sign language.  When we go abroad we know using a few words in their language makes a real difference and the same applies to the deaf community.
  • Changing the signage on your accessible toilets from the traditional wheelchair symbol to ‘Not every disability is visible’ livery. This recognises the fact that 80% of the 13.8m disabled people in the UK are living with hidden disabilities such as Crohn’s or Colitis and will need to use these facilities.
  • Undertaking disability awareness training to ensure your staff are confident in providing a good experience to every customer.  We know the fear of saying or doing the wrong thing, and unintentionally offending a disabled person, is the main reason for staff swerving the conversation altogether.

Purple Tuesday is focused on disabled customers but the principles equally apply to staff in organisations where there is a B2B relationship.

Purple Tuesday is the right thing to do for customers.  With 50% of people in the UK having a disabled relative and/or someone in their close network, disability will have resonance for your staff and the kind of organisation they work for.  And we know shareholders and/or fundholders are expecting the organisations they invest in to explicitly demonstrate their inclusion credentials.

It is not too late to engage with Purple Tuesday and make commitments for the next 365 days. Small changes can make a big difference.

For further information, please email info@purpletuesday.org.uk or visit the website – www.purpletuesday.org.uk

Mike Adams OBE, CEO of Purple