Big Bazaar to launch Quiet Hour across 16 stores for shoppers on the autism spectrum on 1 April
Crowded spaces, bright lights and loud music is not everyone's idea of a fun, shopping experience. Elderly people for instance, or someone who is ailing or adults and children on the autism spectrum.
The needs of those in the last category are rarely considered, something that Big Bazaar is out to change by launching Quiet Hour across some stores in India, specifically keeping in mind the needs of people on the autism spectrum.
On 1 April, one day ahead of World Autism Awareness Day, the retail giant has announced plans to launch an Autism Quiet Hour from 10.30 AM to 12 noon in across 16 stores in 16 cities.
During this period, there will be no announcements, reduced trolleys, dimmed lights, a play zone, and a sensitized staff deployed at all these stores.
Encouraged by the response to the Quiet Hour held on a pilot basis in Mumbai on 3 December last year, Big Bazaar has tied up with 17 NGOs and organizations to make this happen on a larger scale.
We are piloting a first-of-its-kind concept in India on 1 April from 10.30 AM-12 noon on the eve of World Autism Awareness Day. A quiet Hour in 16 selected stores for families on the autism spectrum, intellectual disabilities and anyone who would require less sensory stimuli in retail stores. We, as a society, have neglected the needs of such families for ages when what is needed is sensitization, acceptance and early Intervention. We want to radically raise awareness on autism through Quiet Hour and foster an inclusive India. - Vineet Saraiwala, Inclusion Lead, Big Bazaar
Taking the lead
When it comes to fostering inclusion in the retail space, Big Bazaar has taken the lead. From dedicated priority counters, a body wash in Braille packaging, a dedicated sale day for people with disabilities and more recently an inclusive fashion show.
Much planning and thought goes into every such exercise and the Quiet Hour is no exception. Much planning and thought has been put into making this a seamless operation, says Sonali Saini, Founder, Sol's Arc, which has closely collaborated with Big Bazaar in this initiative.
"We partnered with them for the first one on 3 December at the Matunga store in Mumbai and this time we have worked with organizations in different cities, says Saini. "We created a training pack for these organizations. doing one-on-one trainings on the kind of support needed. We did it every week for two hours.
Saini is especially happy with the manner in which all the organizations have come together to make this happen. "Everyone was invested in the idea and they all immediately jumped in together which is great.
Based on the response from the community, Big Bazaar will take a call on how to improve the experience and eventually make it a permanent feature.
Among the 16 organizations is Action for Autism based in New Delhi. Founder Merry Barua says the move is a major step towards changing attitudes towards disability.
"Big Bazaar's initiative to introduce a Quiet Hour has to be seen as a hugely empowering step. While in the initial period it will be about making the stores autism-friendly, the wider impact will be to make society autism-friendly and in fact disability-friendly. Ignorance and lack of exposure creates the greatest divides in society. By bringing people on the spectrum out into the midst of our everyday lives, Big Bazaar will be striking at the root of this ignorance, says Barua.
Mumbai-based Seema Dhir, who has a son with autism, says these are small ways to enable independence. "As they get older, we want out children to learn shopping and how to live independently and it is great that Big Bazaar is taking care to meet their needs and address factors that may act as triggers for our children.
To register for the launch in your city, click on https://www.bigbazaar.com/quiethour.