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Retailers urged to remember the needs of people with sight loss

Retailers urged to remember the needs of people with sight loss
15th May 2020 Ian Streets

Supermarkets and retailers and their customers across the UK are being urged to prioritise the needs of blind and partially sighted people as coronavirus restrictions bring major changes to the shopping experience.
RNIB has sent guidance for helping blind and partially sighted shoppers during the coronavirus pandemic to key UK supermarkets and retailers.
The charity is also providing tips to people with sight loss on how to negotiate the changes to the retail environment.
Matt Stringer, Chief Executive of RNIB, said: “We know it is vital to make shopping as accessible as possible – particularly in the current circumstances – so I’m pleased retailers are engaging with us.
“We are encouraging all retailers to follow our in store best practice guidelines, but we also urge shoppers to be vocal about any shortcomings.”
The guidance distributed by the charity sets out a series of key points for retailers to remember:
• Be aware – Not all blind and partially sighted people “look blind” by wearing dark glasses, using a cane or a guide dog.
• Guiding – If someone usually requires “traditional” guiding in store why not offer to get the shopping for them. Be aware they may need a guide dog or carer to shop for them.
• Social distancing – Bear in mind that many customers living with sight loss may find it difficult to maintain social distancing.
• Introduce yourself – If you think that someone needs help introduce yourself as customers may not see your uniform.
• Hygiene – To keep everyone safe please highlight to your blind and partially sighted customers where they can sterilise their hands, trolleys and basket handles.
• Changes to the environment – Make sure your customers with sight loss are aware of changes within the store environment. Ensure any temporary signage is at least size 14 font, and verbalise changes where you can.
The guidelines also explain: “Many customers living with sight loss will find it difficult to maintain and practice social distancing. Guide dogs are amazing animals, but they are unaware that social distancing is in force, so please help blind and partially sighted shoppers maintain the appropriate distances. Potential announcements such as: ‘Please maintain your social distance and consider others around you’ could help to support all customers.”
Marc Powell, Strategic Accessibility Lead at RNIB, added: “We hope these simple, but important, guidelines can support both the supermarkets and their blind and partially sighted customers in the current circumstances. We know the supermarkets are doing all they can to meet the demands of their customers; we wanted to provide support to ensure the in-store experience for blind and partially sighted people was as safe – and practical – as possible.”
The RNIB website highlights ways in which the shopping environment has changed to accommodate the restrictions with features including reconfiguration of the layout – especially near checkouts –, Perspex screens to protect check-out staff and floor markings for social distancing.
The site also provides information on particular innovations offered by individual supermarkets and indicates which stores recognise the sunflower lanyard worn by people who have a hidden disability.
To find out more please visit www.rnib.org.uk

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