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Reader’s Experience At Decathlon Southampton

August 5, 2015

An email from reader and friend of Same Difference Jemma Brown about her recent unpleasant shopping experience.

Decathlon in Southampton don’t have an accessible changing room!

I went to buy a sports bra, couldn’t find them, then wandered around trying to find a member of staff. Found a member of staff who gave it the ‘it’s over there’ and I assume pointed. Explained that I needed them to show me as I’m VI.
I sat on the floor to find my size (big sizes are always at the bottom) picked a few to try.

Then I couldn’t find fitting rooms.

Queued for ages to speak to a member of staff who told me they don’t have an accessible changing room. I was flabbergasted so asked to speak to the manager.

Manager came and said ‘they’re all accessible it’s totally flat’ I said ‘ok let’s see if I can get me and my guide dog in it.’

Off we went…

The changing rooms are basically a circular curtain at the end of the isle with a bench and a mirror in it. There are no grab rails no light, no colour contrast (I couldn’t see hooks or rails) and very little space. The only way to fit my
guide dog, Ollie, in was to remove the changing bench (what happens if I want to try on trousers) even then it was very tight and very very dark. No way you would fit in if you needed a PA with you. My pupils can’t adjust to changes in light but this was really really dark.

So because I had to remove the changing bench, I then had to stand holding my rucksack between my knees, no grab rails, no chance of sitting down. When the curtain is pulled it blocks out all the light and you’re essentially in the dark.

Manager then said they had a disabled loo I could use but it’s upstairs… I full on belly laughed! I can’t really do stairs at the moment so explained that I have a physical disability too and that I could not get down the stairs.

I had to give up and leave and I’m so angry to be treated this way it’s not what I was expecting.

It’s basically like ‘come to this sports shop if you are physically “normal,” if you play a disability sport go somewhere else.’

The manager missed my point when saying there were no steps. When I asked how wheelchair users get on ‘ if we remove the bench a wheelchair fits in.’ When I mentioned about telling a blind person it’s over there and asked if they trained staff to recognise a guide dog manager said ‘no
offence but we don’t get them in that often.’

Also I couldn’t believe that the disabled loo which was the only alternative option was upstairs!

The manager did try to be helpful by moving things around – at the end of the day it’s not their fault if head office
don’t train staff or design their stirs to accommodate disabled customers.

I’m so angry and upset. Shopping should not be that hard.

In the last 7 months my physical disability has deteriorated to the point where I have had to stop playing blind cricket and football and move to wheelchair basketball – I love it but it’s a blow and I know I will get to the point where my vision deteriorates so this is no longer an option. I want to enjoy sport as much as I can while I can still take part and it’s like Decathlon in Southampton are basically saying ‘only able bodied people play sport.’ This is totally wrong.

People talk about the Legacy of the 2012 Paralympic Games but if big brand shops like Decathlon are treating disabled people like this then nothing has changed.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 5, 2015 10:15 pm

    Reblogged this on Through My Eyes and commented:
    Thanks so much to my friend Same Difference for turning my emotional ramblings into something coherent.

    Going out to but a bra shouldn’t be that hard!

    Honestly was left totally demoralised!

  2. August 5, 2015 10:17 pm

    If peeps could retweet this https://twitter.com/jemmabrown/status/628958594613035008 it would help.

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