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Quiet Appointments for back-to-school shoe shopping. Read our honest review.

I am a parent of 2 Autistic kids, ages 8 and 5. So, when I heard about the Athletes Food Quiet appointments, I was excited. The Athletes Foot are introducing quiet hours in-store for individuals who need a calm environment while buying shoes. Just in time for Back to School.

A young boy sitting on a chair trying on a pair of sneakers. Quiet Appointments

The quiet appointments are powered through SocialQ, which is the Athletes Foot online booking platform. Using this platform allows individuals to make an appointment and have the ability to plan and prepare for their visit in-store.

Aspect have worked with The Athletes foot to train full-time staff in-store. To assist parents and students in finding the best fit for those with disabilities and creating a space where customers can feel relaxed and well-supported.

The words, Free National Autism Directory.

Trying to navigate the booking system.

We jumped on the Athlete Foot’s website to test the new initiative. It took us a while to figure out how to book a Quiet appointment as there is no information on the landing page. In fact, I had to go back several times to the information page to ensure I had clicked on the correct link.

Even so, we decided to proceed with the booking process hoping that more information would be available on the next page.

We chose our store, we chose what our appointment was for, eg fitting. There were six options to choose from. The quiet appointment was not one of the options. By now, I was thinking that they were not offering this service. Frustratingly, I continued. Once I arrived at the page where I chose my date and time, I was still trying to figure out these so-called Quiet appointments; where are they I asked myself. On my third attempt, I noticed a headphone icon on some of the appointment times at different locations. BINGO, I found them!

The headphone Icon indicates the Quiet appointments.

The appointments

Quiet appointments are not available to book online at all stores as indicated on their information page. Also, they are only offered several times a week. Usually at the early time slot of 9 am or 9.15 am. Generally, the quietest time of the day anyway.

I was also a bit perplexed at what Athlete Foot had put into place in order for it to be a “Quiet appointment” Have they just chosen the quietist part of the day and renamed it in order to appear inclusive? Or was the music turned off and instore sounds minimised during this time? It was not really explained via their website. However, our store did not offer quiet appointments to book online so I cannot even tell you.

All our Australian stores have the option to book a quiet appointment to accommodate your in-store fitting needs.” This statement via their webpage

Disappointing, even after they had explicitly stated ALL STORES. Bad form Athletes foot.

Read more: Binge-worthy shows to watch this Summer featuring Autistic Adults.

Social Stories

On a more positive note. The Athletes Foot have also prepared a communication chart with signs and key symbols for you to download, which assist with verbal and non-verbal communication during the fitting process. They also state they have created a short video, to show the fitting process works. However, I could not find this on their website. There is also a social story to download. 

Tell me what you really think about Quiet Appointments

While I think this is in theory a fantastic initiative, we did wonder how accessible this was for parents with a disability who may be booking appointments for their kids. It was quite confusing to navigate, and all stores did not offer the Quiet appointments as promised. So, while we do appreciate the Quiet appointments, we would suggest a more accessible and clearer booking system, especially as not all stores had the option of quiet appointments.

PS. On a personal note, could we have some later times for all the families who do not like the chaos of early morning shopping trips?

Review written by Brianna C.

Brianna is a mother of 2 Autistic children and is passionate about disability advocacy.

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