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Every little helps?

Before you point it out I do know that it’s a different supermarket’s slogan but hey – it got your attention!

You probably spotted the following story back in April as it was quite widely reported in the press. An Asda superstore in Manchester was praised for introducing a ‘quiet hour’ in an attempt to make shopping easier for people with autism and other disabilities.

Asda living shop

As The Huffington Post reported, “The Asda Living store in Cheetham Hill will be completely silent for sixty minutes every Saturday. Escalators will be stopped and in-store music turned down during the hour, in which its boss says you will be “able to hear a pin drop”. Display TVs and tannoy announcements will also be switched off, to make the experience better for people with autism who can find loud noises difficult to deal with.”

Good news for some shoppers and undoubtedly good publicity for Asda, but this story also got me thinking about our careers fairs and other similar events.

I know that some of the careers fairs and events our service organises can get quite noisy, which could be off putting to students  who, for example, have autism, or anxiety, who are deaf, or a range of other disabilities.

Is creating a ‘quiet hour’ at careers events, with maybe a break out space, largely aimed at  students with a disability, but open to all, a good way of making careers fairs and similar events more accessible?

Or does creating a ‘quiet hour’ like this make students feel that they are being ‘forced’ into sharing with potential employers that they have a disability, in order to attend at this time – something that they may choose not to advertise.

I can see pros and cons to this and I was curious to find out if any other services have tried making their careers fairs more ‘disability friendly’ in this or any other way? If you have, was it successful? What was the feedback like from students and employers?

Please feel free to comment below!

Claire Byron, AGCAS Disability Task Group, Newcastle University

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2 thoughts on “Every little helps?

  1. This is really interesting, thanks for sharing.

    At Dundee we recently trialled opening our main Careers Fair early and only advertised the earlier time to students who were registered with our disability service.

    The employers were told the start time of the fair was the earlier time and we did not inform them that this earlier time was only advertised to students registered with our disability service.

    Any student who turned up at the earlier time was allowed access the fair. We did find it was quiet at that time and only a handful of students accessed it then but we didn’t gain much feedback as to the benefit to those students of accessing the fair at the quieter period. I’d be interested to hear what other services have done and the success/feedback.

    • Thanks for sharing! Interesting that students did choose to come early – even if there were only a few. That would seem to indicate that some students would find a quieter slot more appealing.

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