An Initiative to Make Shopping Hassle Free for Individuals with Asd Steps Towards Sustainable Development
Keywords:Autism Quiet Hour, Big Bazaar, Accessibility, Reasonable Accommodations
The United Nations Development Programme's (UNDP) 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide a powerful framework for guiding local communities, countries, and the international community toward disability-inclusive development. Accessible, well-designed, and maintained public space is critical to the health of any city. Yet public spaces are generally created for an ideal individual without disability or limitation. Reasonable accommodations and support systems must be in place for all disabilities more so for invisible disabilities. In the urban environment, there are very few places for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) to congregate and socialize. For most individuals with ASD and their families, shopping in malls, an activity that most of us take for granted, become so challenging that they often avoid it. In this paper we discuss how the retail giant Big Bazaar addressed this issue and took some major steps to make shopping in their outlets a hassle free, happy experience for individuals with ASD. Big Bazaar has made its stores accessible to people with disabilities by implementing disability-friendly accessibility programs and infrastructure improvements. This initiative was based on their larger philosophy on inclusion and empowerment of people with disabilities. It is part of the new mantra coined at Big Bazaar to incorporate the philosophy of “Sabke Liye” meaning ‘for everyone’. Big Bazaar launched Autism Quiet Hour in April 2019 and it has been a regular feature every Tuesday. Several measures are taken during this duration so that the shopping area is autism friendly. Autism Society West Bengal (ASWB) was the NGO partner of Big Bazaar in Kolkata and was active in the awareness and sensitization program prior to the launch of Autism Quiet Hour in two outlets of Big Bazaar in Kolkata. In this paper we will also discuss about the measures that Big Bazaar took to make the shopping experience for individuals with autism a happy one.
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