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‘Purple Tuesday needs to show real commitment to disabled people – not just marketing’

Today is Purple Tuesday, when companies and organisations commit to becoming more accessible and inclusive to disabled people.

Sounds good right?

Well, you’d think it would be a day of brands giving disabled people proof of how they’ve made their stores, sites and products more accessible and want to work with us, but instead we end up feeling more isolated and less significant to them.

Unfortunately as with most big disability awareness days that happen on social media, the focus has been taken away from helping disabled people and instead become about brands patting themselves on the back.

Instead of actual action brands all scramble to make posts with empty platitudes about how they love disabled people and not actually making any changes.

As a result, they actually push disabled people further away by failing to even consider basic accessibility.

If you scroll through the hashtag #PurpleTuesday on Twitter, you’ll find it’s littered with images without alt-text and companies bragging about accessibility. Completely lacking in self-awareness that they’re outing themselves as being unwelcoming to disabled people with this one action.

There isn’t even specific criteria that companies have to stick to in order to be part of Purple Tuesday, the organisation say that to get involved “organisations must make one new commitment to improve their accessibility and practice, implement the improvement and join the global celebrations on 1st November 2022.”

But in theory, it’s very easy to pledge to commit to access by doing just one small thing, it’s an entirely different thing to become truly accessible and inclusive and show disabled people that you truly care about us.

It’s even worse when brands that disabled people have consistently asked for better from take part. One of the worst culprits for inaccessibility in their stores is Boots.

For years disabled people have been complaining that due to the high street pharmacy’s inaccessible consultation rooms they’ve been forced to get their flu jabs in cupboards and over bins.

Boots have always said they’d look into this yet nothing has changed. So it was a kick in the teeth for a lot of us when we saw that they’re a corporate partner this Purple Tuesday.

Personally Purple Tuesday rubs me up the wrong way because it focuses so much on how disabled people are an untapped source of profits for your business.

Instead of holding businesses to account and saying “you are failing disabled people and excluding them” the day entices businesses into being inclusive with the promise of billions in spending power.

On the organisation’s website it highlights that “The spending power of disabled people worldwide is estimated at $13 trillion, increasing by 14% per annum” .

At a time of world economic crisis when disabled people are struggling the hardest, why are our access needs being reduced to how much we will earn a company?

Our worth as disabled people shouldn’t be in the literal cash sense, you should work to include us because you see us as people, not a £ sign.