One day, disability will be provided for routinely in my favourite shop.

Published on 13/05/19

The needs of the disabled are increasingly gaining retailers’ attention. The aim is not to win market share but to demonstrate their capacity to respond efficiently and relevantly to clients, whatever their circumstances. What if that was in the retailers’ DNA?

Ikea launches ThisAbles

Imagining grabbing the handle on a furniture unit to open it or getting up from the sofa. These two movements may seem mundane and simple, but for a disabled person, they can prove difficult. IKEA has come up with ThisAbles: a range of items and accessories that adapt to its furniture and make life easier for everyone.

13 items to make life easier.

A cup holder for the bed, a large switch for a lamp or even audio devices to help the visually impaired find a shelf…there are 13 items in total, specifically designed by IKEA’s Israeli office in partnership with Milbat, the design agency.

Freely available for 3D printing.

The fact that the plans for these items are freely available so that they can be printed on a 3D printer really puts IKEA ahead of the game. They can also be adapted to the specific user to meet their daily needs.

Shopping sessions introduced for people with autism.

700,000 people suffer from autism in the United Kingdom and it can be a real ordeal for them to shop in a noisy and bright environment. That’s why Morrisons (Britain’s fourth largest supermarket chain) and Tesco have decided to dedicate a specific time slot to their visits.
The idea is that once a week the music is switched off, the lights are turned down and the beeping checkouts even have their sounds switched off. The aim: offer the public a time when sensory overload is reduced.

5,000 shops are already taking part.

In 2018, almost 5,000 shops took part in the scheme. According to a recent survey in the United Kingdom, 60% of those on the autistic spectrum avoid going shopping. Will the concept last or perhaps be exported? Watch this space.

Kindness and generosity.

Beyond these steps, it’s important to emphasise that these global players have the capacity to act at a local level to conceive and create solutions in tune with their clients’ expectations.

It’s an awareness that allows these major brands to align their values with their actions and to continue to play a key role in society.


Photo credit : Ikea