Making Retail Accessible & Inclusive to Customers with Autism.

Harvey Norman are an International company with thirteen locations within the Republic of Ireland; therefore, one would assume that such a large company would be have a blanket approach to their customers. This is not the case for Harvey Norman though as they actively live by their business mission statement of “our business is powered by its people, and passion defines our commitment to meeting the needs of our customers”. The presence of this ethos was truly evident in Harvey Norman’s Flagship store in Tallaght.

Management and staff in the Tallaght store had identified a customer need that they were not yet providing for in an effective or efficient manner. Many of the staff had noticed that a particular portion of their customers had unmet needs during their customer experience which sparked the team to delve deeper into the accessibility of their store for people with invisible disabilities. Hence, a partnership between Harvey Norman Tallaght and myAccessHub was born.

Our journey began by completing a sensory environment assessment of the store which included evaluation of the sensory stimulation present within the store. Naturally, the most overstimulating area within the store was the electronics department; but, this would also be one of the most popular areas within the store. Thus, the sensory stimulation within this area required further exploration. Overall, the sensory environment assessment identified that there was currently a high standard of accessibility within the store.

The second element of our journey involved the completion of on-site Autism Awareness and Equality training. This training provided staff with an overview of what Autism Spectrum Disorder means, how it is diagnosed and how people are impacted on a daily basis by their ASD. This training module also provided the staff with practical strategies to adapt their store to better meet the needs of their customers with ASD. This training module also provided staff with practical strategies to communicate effectively with people with ASD.

The enthusiasm of the staff team was evident from the onset of this initiative and carried through to the launch of their ‘Autism-Friendly’ shopping evenings. The launch of these evenings proved successful for the company with particular regards to increased customer engagement. This launch evening proved so successful that the store has decided to commit to continuing their ‘Autism-Friendly’ shopping evenings on a regular basis. On behalf of your customers with Neurodiversities; Go Harvey Go!

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Miriam O'Sullivan

CoFounder of myAccessHub

Miriam developed the Programme & Standards for myAccessHub. She has recently completed her Masters in Autism and Technology. Miriam has over 10 years experience working with Adults and Children with Autism

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