Mnachester Fort will be supporting Purple Tuesday. Purple Tuesday is the UK’s accessible shopping day, Nearly one in every five people in the UK has a disability or impairment, and over half of households have a connection to someone with a disability. Their collective spending power – the Purple Pound – is worth £249 billion to the UK economy.
However, this potential is not being fully realised. There are still real (and perceived) barriers that make it harder for disabled people to find work, spend money online and in store, and enjoy a drink or meal out.
The aim of Purple Tuesday is to make customer-facing businesses more aware of these opportunities and challenges and inspire them to make changes to improve the disabled customer experience over the long term.
See below the range of services Manchester Fort provide to help meet all of our customers needs.
The Manchester Fort website has become screen reader friendly, all headings throughout the website have been converted to lowercase text, they appear as uppercase on the website but are lowercase in the back office of the website which is where the screen readers pull the information from.
All images on the Manchester Fort website are currently in the process of having alternative text added to them which will allow screen readers to described the images to those with visual impairments.
There are a number of disabled parking spaces across the site with 10% more than the BPA guidelines required. These are also clearly visible across the site.
Access to Manchester Fort is very disability friendly, with close access to public transport and dropped kerbs at several locations across the sites to allow access to those with physical impairments and customers who may be in wheelchairs.
All entrances to retailers and walkways are large enough to accommodate wheelchairs access and retailers who have a 2nd floor all have lifts to allow accessibility to those who can’t use stairs.
All signs to customer services are clearly visible and there are also several A0 site maps in poster sites across Manchester Fort to assist those who may have visual impairments.
Manchester Fort has a fully functional disabled toilet located at customers services.
The Manchester Fort Quiet Hour was designed to ensure that those with autism, had an autistic-friendly retail destination that they could visit regularly. The Quiet Hour, held during the quieter morning period on a Saturday morning, featured suitable lighting, music levels and support for a pleasant shopping trip.
Initially starting with Asda Living, the Quiet Hour spread to eight other stores on site, with more joining as Quiet Hour continued.
A booklet was created that could be used to create shopping lists and provide a map to show where they would be visiting to increase familiarity. We worked with the Autistic Society for the Greater Manchester Area (ASGMA), along with local primary schools to determine the best atmosphere for those with autism, as well as to promote the event itself. Through this, we have created long-term community partnerships which have benefitted the people in which these partners serve.
The Quiet Hour has garnered national and international coverage, with many people praising the pioneering initiative and stores in Singapore have even incorporated the initiative after seeing Quiet Hour in place. Since then, many UK centres have also incorporated this into their centres, as well as a Morrisons in Surrey, with Manchester Fort heralded as the location where it all started. A Japanese film crew from NHK (the Japanese equivalent of the BBC) will be filming about the Quiet Hour in April 2017, in a bid to promote these community initiatives and introduce them in Japan.