Our ‘My Five’ guidance launches to help retailers and businesses improve accessibility for autistic individuals
Today we have launched guidance to help retail and hospitality businesses become more welcoming and accessible to autistic individuals and their families.
We have unveiled our ‘My Five’ guidance document following a public consultation involving autistic individuals and their families across Scotland. The document highlights the five most common challenges that some autistic individuals and their families can face when visiting retail outlets and businesses. This free document details the top five suggestions, of some small adjustments that retailers and businesses can make, to create a more welcoming and accessible environment.
The most common challenge raised from the suggestions is around the need for quiet times and spaces within retail outlets. For many autistic individuals the crowds and sensory aspects associated with shopping can become over-whelming. While some major shopping centres, including Glasgow’s St. Enoch, have introduced quiet shopping times as well as quiet spaces for autistic individuals, the respondents felt this needs to become more widespread across the retail sector.
The other key suggestions highlighted in the ‘My Five’ guidance document include a need for more retail and restaurant staff to receive autism awareness training, to help build a better understanding of autism that will enable them to help create a more relaxed and welcoming environment for their autistic customers.
The acoustic environment of many retail premises can be another challenge for some autistic individuals. Many respondents cited how simple steps to reduce unnecessary music and background noise would significantly improve their ability to visit such places with their family.
The remaining suggestions were focused on how retailers could better assist autistic customers when navigating through their premises, and how adjustments to the visual surroundings can also make a positive difference.
The ‘My Five’ guidance document was launched today in partnership with Glasgow’s St. Enoch Centre which has supported us with a number of autism–accessibility initiatives throughout our year-long partnership.
Our Deputy Chief Executive Charlene Tait said: “We are delighted to be launching our ‘My Five’ guidance document today with our charity partner the St. Enoch Centre. ‘My Five’ is designed to help those businesses that want to become more welcoming and accessible to autistic individuals and their families.
We are grateful for the continued support of the St. Enoch Centre, and would also like to take this opportunity to thank all of the businesses that helped support this campaign.
“At the heart of this campaign is providing the autistic community the opportunity to share suggestions that are useful and meaningful to them. Through the public consultation conducted during this campaign we are able to share some challenges faced by Scotland’s autistic community when visiting retails outlets and businesses. We understand the pressures on many businesses but most of these suggestions are simple adjustments that can create a more welcoming and accessible environment.
“We therefore invite all retailers and other public-facing outlets that are committed to providing a welcoming and accessible environment for their autistic customers, to access this free guidance, which has been informed by the autistic community and available on the Scottish Autism website.
Anne Ledgerwood, General Manager of St. Enoch Centre, said: “We are proud to continue our support of this important initiative which demonstrates the centre’s on-going commitment to becoming more accessible and welcoming for autistic individuals and their families.
“Last year, we launched a dedicated quiet and safe space which was an important first for the city’s shopping facilities and the quiet space is designed to support autistic people and those with learning disabilities and sensory conditions within a busy shopping environment.
“We are keen to make St. Enoch Centre as welcoming and accessible as possible and hope this guide will encourage others to follow our example.”
The My Five ‘How to Make Your Business Environment More Welcoming and Accessible’ guidance document is available online at: www.scottishautism.org/myfive