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For October 2012:

How does one make their store more accessible?

For this question, I will be focusing more on the following:

Point of sale devices, training for staff, and layout of your store.

Point of sale devices -

When it comes to accessibility of point of sale devices, it is one of the most challenging obstacles for blind persons to overcome and one for stores to overcome. In order for point of sales devices to be fully accessible to a blind customer, it means that the blind customer needs to be able to use the point of sale devices independently and without any sighted assistance. This would apply to both device and touch screen.

In the case of keypads, it does help to have a dot placed on the #5 key and then make the OK key larger than the others. Many of these keypads are already laid out in this way but what would enhance this would be to have some sort of voice over facility so that a consumer can plug their headphones into the device and then be able to hear what keys they press as they carry out their transaction. At the present time, a blind customer is unable to tell when they have made an error when entering their pin number and they only discover this after they have done so and are told by the cashier that this is the case.

In the case of touch screens, this needs to be addressed by manufactures and developers and stores need to keep pushing for this bearing in mind that any solution would stand to benefit everyone; not just your blind customer.

Training for staff -

Staff needs to be able to communicate with a blind customer bearing in mind that they are there to guide and assist, not necessarily to carry out an entire transaction unless requested to do so. They need to understand that a blind customer needs to be able to physically touch and feel what they are about to buy. That they need to have a spoken description of the product in question and to be given the prices and any information on sales or bargains about the product in question. In addition, the staff in your store needs to be trained as to how to physically guide a blind customer; those with canes and those with guide dogs. It is all about guiding by voice and offering one's arm.

Layout of your store -

Finally, the layout of one's store and this should be relatively easy to understand. Make sure that shelves are easy to reach, that products are easy to identify, that lighting is more than adequate, and that there are sales persons at the ready to respond to questions. In addition, that aisles are wide enough to accommodate walkers and wheelchairs.

This list is by no means complete and can be expanded as time goes on.

I'm Donna J. Jodhan your freelance writer and roving reporter wishing you a terrific day.

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