This month we welcomed Purple Tuesday – a key date in the shopping centre and OnBrand calendar. But, although that day has now passed, it doesn’t mean this initiative shouldn’t be on your radar all year long. And here’s why….
Ever heard of the Purple Pound? No, it’s not a currency you can use to buy Prince merchandise; it’s the amount of money that businesses lose out on each year because they are reluctant to engage with disabled consumers. It’s estimated at a staggering £249 billion and is on the rise.
So if disabled people in the UK have this much spending power, why aren’t businesses catering to their demands better?
Why indeed. This is exactly the question that the charity Purple, are asking. They are the ones behind the Purple Pound and Purple Tuesday and campaign for accessibility in malls. Their research puts this reluctance for businesses to engage with the disabled community down to fear: “fear of causing offence, of being politically incorrect or of being misunderstood”. So to combat this, Purple set aside the second Tuesday of every November as a day when businesses can show their true colours and tackle their shortcomings by making themselves as accessible as possible for people with disabilities.
What You Can Do
But what does being ‘accessible’ mean? Luckily for you, we’ve compiled a list to give you some ideas on how to make your business more disability-friendly.
One of the ways which you can make a commitment to improving the accessibility of your business is by “Formalising Quiet Hours”. We know many of our clients are already doing a great job of this by setting aside #SEN hours or days, but for those of you who aren’t in the know when it comes to setting aside some quiet time, here’s a quick explanation as to what it involves and why it’s so important:
Many people, especially those on the autistic spectrum, suffer from Sensory Processing Disorder (sometimes called ‘Sensory Integration Disorder’), a condition where the body can struggle to interpret the information that the senses signal to the brain about its surroundings.
One of the ways SPD manifests is a hypersensitivity to the kind of ambient sounds that other people are able to tune out and ignore, things like cars revving, dogs barking, or in-store music.
Now, as much as we love our music at OnBrand, inclusivity always comes first. That’s why we’re encouraging our clients as a part of Purple Tuesday to make it a #SEN day and hit pause on your playlists.
As it turns out, aside from being a super simple way to show support for SPD sufferers, we could all do with a bit of peace and quiet from time to time. The World Health Organisation has gone as far as calling noise pollution a “modern plague”, estimating that the 340 million citizens of Western Europe annually lose a million years off their life because the stress it puts us under. And as if that wasn’t scary enough, they also reckon that noise pollution is the root cause of around 3,000 heart disease deaths per year.
We might think of silence as an absence rather than anything else. But the absence of sound has been shown time and time again to be extremely beneficial for us. Whilst testing how different kinds of music affect us, Bernardi (2006) had expected the silent intermissions to act as a control for his test subjects. But he was surprised to discover that silence had a more relaxing effect on the brain than the ‘relaxing’ music he had been playing.
Studies done on mice done by Wehr (2010) and Kirste (2013) have even more exciting implications though. In both cases, silence had a unique effect in mice brains; it not only provoked brain activity unique from processing sound, but the results of Kirste’s experiments suggested that silence provoked the growth of new neurons. These are still preliminary findings, but it could mean that silence therapy might be used in future to treat sufferers of dementia and depression, states in which the production of new cells in the brain decreases. Talk about making something out of nothing, eh?