We welcome any moves by businesses, big or small, to become more accessible and inclusive. We are especially pleased when a business recognises the need to expand or extend a service to better meet their customer’s needs. Coles Supermarkets have extended their Quiet Hour to five nights a week.
In 2017 Coles Supermarkets were the first in Australia to introduce a Quiet Hour to enable customers who find high sensory environments challenging the opportunity to shop in a quieter environment. The original Quiet Hour was on Tuesdays between 10.30 and 11.30am. At the time many people in our Have Wheelchair Will Travel community commented that this timing didn’t accommodate people who work, so it’s fantastic to see that not only is Coles changing the time to 6pm to 7pm but it’s extending the Quiet Hour to operate in Coles stores nationally five days a week. Quiet Hour is now available Monday through Friday from 6pm to 7pm.
Changes customers can expect during Quiet Hour include Coles Radio turned down to the lowest volume, reduced register and scanner volume and team members refraining from using the PA system, except for in emergencies.
Coles has an ongoing commitment to ensuring its stores are as accessible as possible and has partnered with Amaze (an autism specialist organisation) to work on a number of initiatives to build the capacity and capability of the business to meet the needs of Autistic people and their families.
Coles app nominated App of the Year at Centre for Accessibility Awards
Along with Quiet Hour, Coles has worked on significant upgrades to their mobile app. The app includes integrated accessibility features including a variety of new features making it more accessible, easier to see, operate and use for all Australians. These changes have been made in consultation with people living with a disability.
The accessibility features Coles customers can benefit from in the app include tailored text sizes, the ability to make content larger and easier to read and the app allows customers to use their preferred screen orientation with both portrait and landscape options. To assist customers using assistive technologies, the app also features custom actions which provide a simpler experience by reducing the number of swipes and taps required to navigate the app.
Accessibility of Coles Own Brand products
It’s wonderful to be able to access the app and to have extended Quiet Hours in store but that’s not where the improvements end. Coles partnered with Get Skilled Access conducting focus groups with a diverse cohort of people with disabilities who evaluated the accessibility of selected products. Recommendations led to improved accessibility of 45 Coles Own Brand products including the improved ease of opening and reducing the force required to open bottles.
While this blog and the press release about these enhancements focuses on the positive impact for people with a disability, the increased accessibility of packaging will also assist many elderly people.
Let’s hope other retailers follow the lead of Coles Supermarkets. I’ll also put it out to the universe that I’d also appreciate it if smaller retailers made their stores more accessible to wheelchair users by providing ample circulation space. With stores spilling over with Christmas stock at the moment it’s especially difficult to negotiate the smaller stores.
And remember Coles has shopping trolleys specially designed for children with a disabilities. You can read about the trolleys at Coles and other stores in this blog.