University Of Tasmania

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Improving Access and Support for Consumers with Cognitive Disabilities: a Guide for Retailers

posted on 2023-05-25, 05:37 authored by Yvette MakerYvette Maker, Callahan, A, McSherry, B, Paterson, JM, Brophy, L, Anna Arstein-Kerslake

It is important that all consumers can access the goods and services that are necessary for participation in modern life. To do this, they need to make choices about the products and services that will be best for them, including essential or basic services like energy, water and telecommunications. These choices and decisions are usually made before the consumer enters into a contract, in the 'pre-sale' or 'pre-contract' process. Standard pre-sales and pre-contractual processes, as well as processes for getting assistance or dealing with problems with a service, are not currently tailored to the requirements of all consumers, including many consumers with cognitive disabilities.

This document offers guidance to retailers to make their processes and communications more helpful and accessible to consumers with cognitive disabilities, who may have difficulties with learning, concentrating on, processing, remembering, or communicating information, and/or with decision-making.1 This might include, for example, some people with intellectual disability, Acquired Brain Injury, or dementia, and some mental health service users. Unsuitable information, communication difficulties, stigma, discrimination and social isolation may mean people with cognitive disabilities cannot access the services they want and need. They may not have access to the kinds of support for making decisions that other consumers take for granted. Salespeople and other staff might have legitimate concerns about invading a consumer's privacy or being discriminatory if they ask disability-related questions or suggest extra assistance or support. Consumers with cognitive disabilities may also encounter barriers to resolving problems with their product after the contract is made, such as problems in paying their bills or what to do if the product doesn't work.


Commissioning body

The University of Melbourne




Faculty of Law


The University of Melbourne

Place of publication


Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Ability and disability; Civil justice; Justice and the law not elsewhere classified