People with disabilities accomplish activities of their daily routine quite differently when compared to people without disabilities. These activities include feeding themselves, moving around, communicating, fulfilling other personal and social roles, etc. demand a specialized set of kinesics. Hence, how can shopping malls be socially inclusive and accommodate people with challenges at their facility in order to provide them with thrilling, fun-filled experiences?
Before we get into the details of the advantages of shopping mall navigation apps, let’s understand who people with disabilities are and the challenges they face on a regular basis.
A Snapshot on People with Disabilities
Disabled people are the ones who are either born with or have acquired a state of being where-in their physical, mental, intellectual or sensory properties function on another tangent when compared to the majority of the population. Disabilities could include loss of limbs, visual or aural impairments, hormonal imbalances which affect the growth of the individual or a significant part of their body, etc.
People with disabilities can be found across geographies, both rural and urban, using accessories and attendant technology to help them engage with the world we live in. It’s not a surprise anymore when we discover organizations employing people with disabilities for jobs, both casual and critical, as technology has minimized the disability thereby empowering the individual to carry out tasks as demanded by the establishment.
What has made this positive change possible?
The answer, of course, is technology. Through humane efforts of inventors big and small people with disabilities have tremendous opportunities in various fields to pursue careers of their choice. From being ridiculed as ‘aliens’ or ‘jokers’ or ‘monsters’ we have now reached a cherished moment in human history which has effectively blended special abilities with technology to use more inclusive terms; a vital sign in the progress of our human race.
But is every space warm enough to welcome the diversely-abled?
In contemporary times, from seeking the help of others to procure essential items for livelihood people with disabilities can now shop online independently and fulfill their existential needs. However, the point is to ensure they also join visit various facilities for both formal as well as recreational purposes.
While various facilities consciously design their space to make it disabled-friendly, there are many important arenas which need to wake up to this fact and ensure a space which is warm and welcoming for all sections of the society. Shopping malls are spaces which need effective infrastructural as well as technological improvements to be inclusive.
New Technologies for New Experiences
Shopping is fun; it’s more than fun, in fact. It is a necessity which can sometimes become an obsession. However, everybody loves to shop in a mall as there are other attractions such as movies, games, rides, etc. which provide entertainment for those looking to spend their weekends with friends and family. It is a notable fact that few shop because they find pleasure in it while for others it remains a necessity. Despite the reasons for shopping in a mall being aplenty, visitors look forward to a hassle-free and productive time at the venue.
To realize this element and enhance the visitor experience, malls can adopt a Shopping Mall Navigation App which works with indoor location tracking technology to help users navigate effortlessly within the facility. This particular invention is gradually picking up pace and it is a matter of time before large facilities such as malls include it in their list of must-haves to improve visitor experience.
Apps like these help visitors pre-plan their routes from outside the facility to inside, get notified with offers and deals to maximize their time, and receive vital safety tips and alerts among other experiential benefits.
This is precisely the technology that can help people with disabilities as well. It makes it flexible and effortless to navigate within the mall and shop with very little stress on their minds. In today’s world barring few exceptions, not many people with disabilities visit malls because they foresee the problems which can possibly occur. The most common issue could be wayfinding and navigating in thickly populated malls as it becomes really hectic to reach their choice of destination in the given ambience.
With the advent of indoor location tracking technology which helps with indoor positioning and navigation, disabled people can visit shopping malls without any hesitation and explore the thrills and excitement malls offer.
Challenges Faced By People with Disabilities in Shopping Malls
It is not always common for the mall infrastructure to accommodate people with disabilities as part of its design. Very few organizations do thorough research and planning to design the mall infrastructure that is conducive for navigation and accessible by all sections of the populace.
Let’s look at a few of the challenges faced by people with disabilities while at shopping malls.
People in a Wheelchair
Shopping becomes a painful task especially when you find yourself in a mall which is huge and crowded with no human resource available to accompany you in your shopping journey. To add further misery to this situation, you are in your wheelchair which does not come with an indoor navigation guide! With the right technology in your hand such as indoor positioning and navigation app, it becomes a completely enjoyable journey irrespective of disability.
In most cases, people in wheelchairs are bullied when asked for guidance. It becomes a much more cumbersome task to navigate within the mall. Sometimes, their immediate reality is made fun off by people with no sense of empathy in social platforms like malls, resorts, colleges, etc.
However, by using a shopping mall navigation app, the disabled can way find and navigate all by themselves and not bother about anybody’s comments or criticism.
People with Listening and/or Vision Disabilities
Listening becomes an important sense while communicating with people and people with listening disability find ways to communicate but unfortunately, they are not given an opportunity to do that as they are most commonly ignored or bullied.
According to a research conducted in the year 2011 with the title ‘Disabled facilities in shopping malls: Malaysian Perspective’, people with hearing disability have not been shopping since last 5 years due to poor access in malls.
For visually impaired people, however, shopping may seem an impossible task to complete unless there are modern technologies to help and guide them in this process.
For people who are handicapped, deaf, mute, autistic, etc. technology can provide the best service and reliance on modern gadgets will pay rich dividends. For people with visual disability, using an application that can convert text to speech is a good option as real-time data can be accessed through the use of headphones connected to the smartphone.
Key Benefits of Indoor Navigation Technology for People with Disabilities
Indoor Navigation and Wayfinding
- Shopping mall navigation app allows people with disabilities to shop effortlessly. Shopping seems to be a hectic job to do but it also comes with an equal amount of fun as well. With this innovative navigating and wayfinding technology both normal and challenged people can enrich their shopping experience fivefold.
People with disabilities can enter the shopping mall and not look for anybody for guidance. They can use the indoor location tracking technology and make way for themselves. Not just in shopping malls but this technology can be adopted by various other industries which deal with large numbers of people accessing the facility such as airports, warehouses, medical facilities, educational facilities, resorts, etc. In all of these industries, disabled people face common issues of wayfinding and navigation.
Association with this shopping mall navigation app, people with disabilities can combat the common problems they have been facing while socializing with others on a daily basis.
Not just while shopping but while in airports, convention centers, resorts, etc. this technology can navigate the challenged people with a real-time point to point guidance.
Easy Access to All facilities Within The Mall
- Generally, disabled people face troubles accessing the various facilities in a mall from shopping aisles to restrooms or games arcades. Many times, they deny their own privileges of having access to all the facilities because of their physical condition. But this technology will empower them and make them feel that they are no less than other persons who traverse within the shopping mall with ease.
Eventually, This Technology Can Change the Way People Look at the Challenged
In most cases, disabled people are prone to suffering from emotional and psychological challenges due to the ways in which certain sections of society engaging with them. The uncalled for comments and remarks passed by insensitive people on various offline and online social platforms make them susceptible to mental trauma which might cause unsavory experiences and leave bad memories in the head. While there are sensitive people who sympathize with the physical state of disabled people, the solution to social bullying lies in the disabled being independent who can take care of themselves without the intervention of others around them.
With the help of latest technologies, people with disabilities can chart their own course of action and monitor progress while they are out spending time in large facilities. This will also bring about a welcome change in the attitudes of people who disrespect or devalue the disabled making them take note of the capacity technology has made disabled people acquire.
To conclude, it would be premature to say that it is only the disabled people who need to pick themselves up and develop technologies to help their lifestyle for ensuring ease of access. It has to be a collaborative effort where developers of technology, its promoters, and its adopters form a community which guarantees a win-win proposition for all.