Black Friday! (and shopping as a Disabled Person)
Black Friday is a day that gained popularity in America some years ago, but it is starting to become far more recognised in the UK as well. It’s a day where, essentially, everything is cheaper and prices are slashed. Yay! Aside from it being Black Friday, I decided that I would look into how shopping is more difficult for people with disabilities and how we can get help to be as independent as possible.
One of the most difficult things that I personally find about going into a shop is finding everything that I need. This applies particularly to food shopping when you’re in a massive supermarket – trying to find that jar of jalepenos is a challenge for anyone, never mind if you have a disability! As I am visually impaired, I find it difficult to see how things are arranged on the shelf, to find exactly the brand of product that I want, or to look at labels on the packets. In order to be able to see them, I have to put the packets so close to my face that I often get embarrassed, so I try to avoid massive supermarkets on my own. Self-service checkouts are HORRENDOUS! I can never see the screen, or where to put my money or card in and sometimes the voice isn’t even activated! So I use the manned desks. People also sometimes look at my cane as though it’s something dangerous – which it isn’t!
For other people the challenges of shopping with a disability are different. If you’re a wheelchair user, for example, you might find it difficult to reach objects that are placed (very unhelpfully!) on high shelves. I’ve seen people who are wheelchair users in supermarkets find it hard to negotiate the aisles too so I can see how it would be very difficult. For those who might have a hearing disability, some supermarkets do not provide adaptations for users of hearing aids. If someone has a cognitive or learning disability, they might find it harder to handle packaging, find what they are looking for, or even ask staff members for help.
Shopping in department stores for clothes and other items can also be difficult for me – for the same reasons as I’ve already mentioned. In addition, colours of things can sometimes be difficult to spot. Luckily, there are certain things that I have found help me to go shopping – and sometimes independently, which I never thought I’d be able to do!
Tips for Shopping
Firstly, plan ahead. I can’t stress this enough. I always know exactly how I’m going to get there and which transport I need to take. Also, sometimes shopping in a big shopping centre is best. Although it may seem more daunting, there are more people to help and that can only be a good thing! I live near Westfield in Stratford so this is my shopping centre of choice – I love it!
Once you’re there, don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. At some shopping centres they even have a service that caters for disabled customers – ring up or email to ask first. In Westfield where I go shopping they offer this service and take me to the shops I need to go to. The golden rule is to ask! I used to get very worried about asking shop assistants to help me find things but generally they’ve been very friendly and helpful. Also, if you go to a certain shop a lot the assistants often get to know you which is good for your confidence – they often offer to help then. The guys at the Disney Store at Westfield must get sick of seeing me!
If you have any aids that help you when you’re out (telescope, cane, glasses, magnifier, voice device) bring them along. It can’t hurt and they often help people to further understand the areas that you need help in.
If you’re shopping for clothes, often there is a disabled changing room which is good for anyone with any disability – I use them when they are available as it is easier to sort out what you need and where everything is if the space is a little bigger than usual. It is also good for wheelchair users and those with other disabilities as well.
Finally, for food shopping, I tend to shop online. It’s a great service -especially when you’re a busy student like me! You can choose what you want from a huge selection of products and then have them delivered at a time that suits you. You can also do this with clothes and other items – but be careful as it’s easier to go wrong with other things, especially clothing – you often end up with the wrong size so it can be more hassle to return it. For clothes shopping, I tend to go with a friend, or if I’m on my own, I ask for help in the shop.
In certain supermarkets, if you ring up , they offer assistance to disabled customers, so if you feel like venturing out into open space, you can access food shopping as anyone else would. I’ve done this a few times and it’s a good service although I still find it’s quicker to shop online for food.
Black Friday Deals!
Amazon has some great Black Friday deals, and the Disney fan in me found The Lion King Boxset for £17.49 with free delivery. That’s Christmas sorted!
What are your experiences of shopping? Let us know and have fun!
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