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15% of the world’s population live with some form of disability, according to the World Health Organization – yet these people are often under-served by brands and businesses that do not address their specific needs. The aim of Purple Tuesday is to raise awareness and inspire businesses to make changes to improve the disabled customer experience over the long term. Here, the Mintel Trends team identifies four global initiatives from the past year serving underserved disabled consumers.

A unique skill set

Individuals with varying degrees of autism can struggle to fit into mainstream work culture. New York tech start-up Daivergent is flipping the script and connecting technically-gifted individuals on the autism spectrum with companies in need of a skilled workforce to perform tasks such as fast-paced research and data processing. Four autistic employees are based at the headquarters, while another 200 work remotely from home. Indeed, a shift in traditional office culture is increasingly creating room for remote work opportunities that allow employees with autism to purely focus on a task at hand, versus other aspects of work socialisation that might be more challenging for them.

Credits: Daivergent

ASOS for all

ASOS designed a waterproof jumpsuit to cater for the needs of wheelchair users for this year’s festival season. The tie-dye jumpsuit was seen on the retailer’s website worn by both a wheelchair user and an able-bodied person. The design is actually made from two pieces, but the jacket and trousers can be zipped together to make a fully waterproof outfit, with adjustable sleeve length also adding practicality. ASOS worked with GB Para athlete Chloe Ball-Hopkins to ensure the design met the needs of wheelchair users. This collaborative approach is not only likely to ensure a better product, but can also create a much-needed dialogue between consumers and brands. This wheelchair-friendly jumpsuit from ASOS is part of a growing movement to make fashion more inclusive for different body types and requirements.

Credits: ASOS

Accessible banking

Emirates NBD bank in Dubai has introduced a more inclusive self-service banking experience for people with disabilities to help them make banking transactions independently. Visually disabled customers simply fill in English or Arabic Braille banking forms, while a hearing loop has been piloted to improve the experience for people with hearing aids by filtering out noise distortions. The bank has also trained 36 branch managers and service ambassadors in the basics of American Sign Language (ASL), and is planning to conduct more training this year. This comes as part of Dubai’s plan to enhance the city’s services and products as part of its goal to transform itself into a disability-friendly city by 2020.

Credits: Emirates NBD

Free to ride

The city of Johannesburg has introduced free bus rides for disabled and elderly citizens during off-peak hours to help provide them with better access to basic services, as well as enabling them to become economically empowered. Piloting within the next year and hoping to be fully functional by 2020, the new facility is part of the government’s aim to ease the financial hardship and adversity faced by society’s most vulnerable. Johannesburg’s free bus pass is a practical initiative that has potential to greatly improve equality and independence for disabled and elderly people, with the simplicity of not having to alter the existing service which is likely to make its widespread implementation more feasible.