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Big Bazar launches comfortable shopping experiences to people with disabilities: My experience

Big Bazar has launched an initiative to provide wonderful shopping experience to people with disabilities and we have just visited to its store in Koramangala, Bangalore. It was an awesome experience and definitely a good beginning to their journey of inclusive shopping experience. Here is our experience.

Their assistance program web page has a form where customer needs to fill in  a form choosing city, location, date and time slot of choice. On submission, we have received a text message and email confirming our request to visit the store. Email was also stated that an Accessibility Champion will get in touch with us shortly, but in our case it did not happen.

We have called up the store; operator said she did not have complete information about the initiative but she was aware something special is happening in the store; she has provided me with the hand phone number of store Manager. He was indeed aware of the initiative and keen to have us at their store.

When we have visited the store, we have called the Manager and he has received us and introduced to two of his team members. They have asked us to choose from a couple of options. One is to just give them our shopping list and they will shop for us and another is they would take us around the store and we can pick the products that we needed. We have opted for the later. They have immediately picked a cart for us and we started walking. They have called out each and every product to us and given us a choice to select. As we select a product, they were adding it to the card. They were even willing to carry our child too (though he declined!).

They have taken us to all the departments; even told us about available freebies such as a sample drink etc., and helped us having the same. It took about an hour for shopping and their personnel were always with us. At the end of the shopping, we were attended by a priority cash counter. There were seats available for us to sit incase if we want. Then we got dropped at our cab. Even our shopping bags were kept inside the cab by their personnel. It was absolutely a wonderful experience.

The store that we have visited is one of the very old stores hence store did not have escalator or elevator but staff were indeed helpful. Our advice to customers with wheel chair or anyone who cannot use stairs is that it would be good to with your desired shopping list. Alternatively, store personnel can give you a store catalogue and you can choose products that you need.

Thank you, Big Bazar for this initiative. Sure, this would add mutual benefit to you and your customers.

Impact of Inclusive Design

Srinivasu speaking at UX India 2016This is full text of presentation made at UX India on 21st October, 2016.

Thank you for having me here and I’m delighted to talk about inclusive design. Thank you UX India organizers for including this topic as part of this conference.

To begin with, let me quickly introduce myself. I’m an accessibility evangelist, currently leads accessibility efforts at Informatica. Accessibility is something I am passionate about; I live in Bangalore with Hema (wife), Varshi (our angel) and 3 months prince!

Since we have very limited time, let’s get to the agenda – in next few minutes, we will be talking about Impact of inclusive design – beyond disabilities. The reason I specifically mentioned about beyond disabilities is because it’s often we see discussions about accessibility are focused only around disabilities and sometimes even specific to visually impaired. Through this tiny talk, I would want to wipe that myth! Of course, accessibility empowers users people with disabilities but not only people with disabilities.

In this session, we will be talking about:

  • What is Inclusive Design
  • Social Impact
  • Technical Impact
  • Financial impact
  • Legal impact

Please note that it’s not something I worked from scratch but I’m just explaining business case created by W3C.

What is inclusive design?

Inclusive design is not a rocket science; it’s just about building products that are usable to all users irrespective of disabilities, age group, devices used etc., Let’s looks at few things that we commonly use:

  • Elevators: These are mainly designed to help those who cannot use stairs; I can understand, when someone is uses elevator to reach 8th or 10th floor in a building; but today, we see mostly everyone uses elevator even for a floor or two.
  • Ramps: Again, ramps are not only for people with loco motor disabilities; but also helpful to a women with pregnancy, elderly, a person with a heavy baggage. This is a reason we see ramps at most of the super markets at the exit gate.
  • Subtitles: These are actually meant for people who are hard of hearing; but mostly, everyone reads through them specially when watching a video / movie in a language that is other than that we know of.
  • Audio announcements in Rail station: This is quite common, when travelling by train, we await to hear announcements made though same may be displayed on screens. Because screen may be away from where we are standing or it’s the way we habituated for a long time; expecting announcements at rail stations. In-train announcements are not only helpful to blind passengers to know about next arrival station but also to those who are new in that route.

So this means we do not really have to build products for a particular group of users but we need to make sure our product work for diverse users.

Now let’s talk about impact of inclusive design.

Social Impact

By making products accessible, companies could showcase their social responsibility. It increases the brand value and inspire other product companies. It would also brings in respect and trust to your products. Inclusive products create equal opportunities to diverse set of users.

Technical Impact

These are benefits to you, as a company! An accessible product improves quality of your product, inter-operability, reduces site maintenance time – accessible code will be more semantic and hence becomes easy for future engineers to update / modify the existing code, it would also optimize server load time since accessible code will not have junk code in it. And sites that are accessible would work very well on different configurations such as mobile and tablets.

Financial Impact

As your product becomes accessible, number of users would grow thus eventually your users will grow. An Accessible product would be more usable to diverse set of users including those with disabilities, elderly, slow bandwidth connection, mobile users etc., It also saves cost on maintenance as semantic code would be easier to maintain than a lot of junk code. Once accessibility practice is in place and applied through product life cycle, it would reduce investment on accessibility and mobile readiness. Often accessible websites could be easily adoptable to mobile platforms.

Legal Impact

Lastly, building accessible products will avoid dealing with lawsuits. In several countries such as the Europe, US, Australia etc., consumers and advocacy organizations could file a case against products that discriminate inclusion law. Accessible products would not only enable compliance but also build trust among consumers. In addition, accessible products will have added advantage to sell to government organizations. In many countries, procurement policies of government do include requirement of accessibility.

Above all, it makes you as a responsible business. Let’s build inclusive products.

Thank you all!

Slides

Video of talk