Asda has been praised by Crohn’s and Colitis UK, and thousands of supporters for helping to break the stigma around invisible illness.
The UK’s 3rd largest retailer has launched a programme to introduce accessible toilets in more than 400 stores including clear signage to indicate that not all disabilities are visible, helping to ensure customers feel comfortable when using the facilities in-store.
The move has received recognition from Crohn’s and Colitis UK after one of the charity’s supporters, Emiley Slater, noticed the sign in the York Superstore at Monks Cross Shopping Park.
The idea was prompted by a conversation between Asda Newark manager, Abby Robinson, and customer, Tonya Glenister. While visiting the store with her daughter they were questioned by another customer about why they used the disabled toilet.
Tonya said: “My daughter has Autism and can be affected by the noise of the hand dryer, if she isn’t prepared for it, so the accessible toilet gives us a little bit more space and privacy. On one occasion two customers waiting, one of whom was in a wheelchair, disagreed that we should be using the toilet. I was overwhelmed to see that Asda took my concerns seriously and has made these changes nationwide. So many people will benefit from this - it will raise awareness and help people understand that you can’t always see someone’s disability. The world disabled isn’t really viable anymore and it’s great that Asda appreciates that and has taken action.”
Crohn’s and Colitis UK are thrilled that Asda has taken this positive action. For many people with Crohn's Disease, Ulcerative Colitis and other forms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), the sudden and uncontrollable need to use a toilet is a genuine and recognised symptom of their condition. Whilst they may not look ill on the outside they are affected from debilitating symptoms that affect many aspects of their lives.
Many members of the charity feel that they are judged for using accessible toilets because others perceive them to be well and not entitled to use the facilities. The experience or fear of faecal incontinence is very undermining to a person’s confidence and self-esteem. Asda has made a terrific and long-lasting impact by adopting these signs throughout their stores across the UK; we hope that more businesses will follow suit and help the public to be aware of ‘invisible’ diseases.