A supermarket is a maze if you are visually impaired. That is why Albert Heijn will participate in a “hackathon” to make grocery shopping more accessible to blind or visually impaired shoppers. At the same time, a Belgian Carrefour will train its employees to help these consumers.
Albert Heijn Eindhoven: a buddy and special glasses
Eindhoven’s Albert Heijn XL customers will be able to experience what is like to shop as a visually impaired visitor on 24 January. Participants will get special glasses that will block of impair their vision before they shop in the supermarket. The goal is to finish a shopping list.
The Dutch expertise center for blind and visiually impaired people, Koninklijke Visio, is organizing the event, which is part of an annual hackathon to find new ways to make the world more accessible for people with visual impairment.
To improve grocery shopping for everyone
“It is vital we take new steps towards the accessibility of our public buildings for visually impaired people. When it comes to innovation, Albert Heijn is a pioneer in the supermarket industry and they are aware that a supermarket should be accessible to everyone”, Koninklijke Visio’s Michiel Bormans told Distrifood.
The goal is that the duos’ experiences will lead to results that Albert Heijn can use to make grocery shopping more enjoyable and accessible to all. Improvements could be new services, products or technologies.
Carrefour Grands Prés: employees will help visually impaired shoppers
At the Carrefour hypermarket in the Grands Prés shopping center in Mons, they will do things their own way. After an employee noticed a blind customer asking for help at the cash register, she came up with the idea to create a new service for the store two years ago. The Amis des Aveugles (Friends of the Blind) organization has already trained ten employees to help blind and visually impaired customers do their grocery shopping. These employees volunteered and were given a two-day education to guide shoppers as well as possible and to do the right actions.
Customers can come to the front desk and an employee will then walk through the aisles with the customer. Depending on the help they need, these will showcase products, lend a helping hand, help to orientate people and so forth. “A supermarket can be an actual maze and guided grocery shopping trips can be a relief”, a visually impaired customer explained to regional station Télé MB. There are now ten employees who have followed the training but more volunteers can always be added.
The Grands Prés shopping center, where this Carrefour is located, has also become more accessible: it now has walking lines and visual aids (like on mirrors), all thanks to the assistance of Amis des Aveugles.