Crippen looks at the barriers facing disabled shoppers

The Disability news Service reports that at least 30 disabled people have instructed solicitors to begin legal action against various supermarkets for discriminating against them under the Equality Act by failing to make the reasonable adjustments needed for them to shop safely.

Many disabled people have found it impossible to order home deliveries online, because they are not in the small proportion of disabled people seen by the government as being “extremely clinically vulnerable”. This criterion allows some disabled people to access a ‘priority delivery’ function on the various supermarket web sites. Unfortunately, ‘normal’ delivery slots are fully booked for up to four weeks in advance, and even then, offer no available slots after this period.

Some of those taking legal action are unable to shop safely in supermarkets because of the poor response to social distancing by other customers, while others are unable to travel to supermarkets for impairment-related reasons.

Some of the claimants could shop safely in-store if their local supermarket was willing to make reasonable adjustments for them, but are prevented from doing so, for example, by having to queue to enter the store – with no seats while they are waiting – or not being allowed to bring a companion with them to help them shop.

One of the claimants, who has been an online customer with Sainsburys for over 10 years has described how the failure to secure regular deliveries from Sainsbury’s has been a “huge source of anxiety”.

Although she is seen as being “at risk”, because of her health conditions, she is not one of the 1.5 million people in England on the government’s list of those most at risk from the virus and so is not seen as a priority for home deliveries, even though she receives the enhanced rates of personal independence payment for both daily living and mobility.

Go figure!

Description of cartoon for those people using screen reading software

The scene is the entrance to a large supermarket, called Supastore in the cartoon. There is a queue of people waiting, socially distanced, leading up to a door marked ‘normal’. A man in a high viz tabard is allowing them to enter one at a time. Alongside of them is another queue, but these are disabled people with varying impairment issues. They are being guided through a separate door marked ‘disabled’ by another man in a high viz jacket. You can see that the disabled shoppers are being shown to another door inside of the entrance which brings them outside again – re-joining the queue of disabled people. The disabled shoppers are therefore not making it into the shopping area of the store but are walking in a large circle, effectively getting nowhere. The man in the high viz who is policing the ‘normal’ entrance is saying to a customer: “Don’t worry Madam – it keeps them occupied!”

Don’t forget, you can also follow Crippen along with other disabled artrists on the Disability Arts Online (DAO web site.

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