Kymberly Martin
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Coles trials ‘quiet hour’ to help people with autism shop

Coles FINAL

Coles has partnered with Austism Spectrum Australia to support customers with autism. This innovative low-sensory shopping experience is being rolled out to 68 stores nationally, following a successful trial at Coles Ringwood and Balwyn East stores in Victoria.

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Every Tuesday between 10.30 and 11.30am the supermarket retailer will dim store lighting by 50 per cent, reduce registers and scanners volumes to the lowest level and switch off the store radio. No trolley collections or roll cages will be removed from the shop floor, only emergency announcements will be announced and additional staff will be available to support customers during the trial phase.

Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect) community engagement and operations manager, Linzi Coyle said for many individuals and families a simple trip to the shops can be difficult. “The trial was a wonderful success and we received lots of positive feedback from community members about their experience. With autism affecting 1 in 100 Australians, expanding this shopping experience to more Coles stores will significantly improve the lives of many children, young people and adults on the spectrum, as well as their family members,” she said.

Coles accessibility sponsor, Peter Sheean said Coles wanted a good geographic spread of participating stores and worked closely with Aspect to identify the additional 66 stores.

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The ‘quiet hour’ is not limited to people with autism and anyone who may benefit from the experience is welcome.

For a list of the stores visit: http://www.autismspectrum.org.au

The initiative is part of an ongoing program by Aspect to foster an autism-friendly Australia. Following a successful pilot in Northern NSW, Aspect is working with 14 Surf Life Saving clubs across NSW and QLD, to help them create an inclusive Nippers program. The project joins earlier collaborations with Taronga Zoo and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney.

At Aspect, we believe all Australians should have the opportunity to access and be included in their community in a safe and meaningful way,” Aspect CEO, Adrian Ford said.

The Inclusive Beaches project will introduce a range of specialist training, support and online resources for the whole community, as well as provide employment opportunities for people on the spectrum.

For more information visit: www.inclusion.net.au