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Charity issues guidance on how retail industry can support customers with sight loss during pandemic

The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) is calling on retailers to ensure that physical changes to their premises are accessible for people with sight loss.

The charity has created new best practice guidance, outlining how measures introduced to keep customers safe can be made accessible. The guidance also aims to improve understanding of the challenges being faced by blind and partially sighted customers as lockdown restrictions ease.

Two thirds (66 per cent) of blind and partially sighted people who responded to an RNIB survey feel less independent now than they did before lockdown.

Measures such as social distancing have turned the world upside down for people with sight loss, with one-way systems in shops being almost impossible for those with a vision impairment to navigate.

Some key points from the guidance include introducing audio announcements, colour contrasting signs and tactile markers to aid navigation in ques, and around one-way systems, as well as how-to better support and communicate with blind and partially sighted people.

The guide builds on work RNIB has been doing with supermarkets throughout lockdown to ensure that blind and partially sighted people have access to online delivery slots, after finding that three in four people with sight loss were very or quite concerned about getting access to food.

Marc Powell, Strategic Accessibility Lead at RNIB, said: “As lockdown eases, we want to ensure that those working in the retail industry are fully aware of the challenges being faced by blind and partially sighted people during this time, and to know how they can best provide support.

“We’re hearing daily from blind and partially sighted people that they are incredibly anxious about how to manage the situation when going to the shops or supermarkets. This has the potential to have a real impact on people’s quality of life. We hope these simple, implementable measures outlined in our best practice guidance will make life easier for blind and partially sighted people at this time.”

For more information about the our guidance, please contact External Accessibility Enquiries Mailbox on [email protected].

Notes to editors

All media enquiries to Emily Peachey on 0203 829 2917 or [email protected].

Or, for urgent enquiries out-of-hours, please call 07968 482812.

About the research

This RNIB survey ran from Tuesday 28 April to Monday 11 May. There were 26 questions in total covering access to food, accessible information and social isolation. In total there were 471 responses across the UK from variety of people covering different levels of sight impairment.

About RNIB

We are the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB).

Every six minutes, someone in the UK begins to lose their sight. RNIB is taking a stand against exclusion, inequality and isolation to create a world without barriers where people with sight loss can lead full lives. A different world where society values blind and partially sighted people not for the disabilities they’ve overcome, but for the people they are.

RNIB. See differently.

Call the RNIB Helpline on 0303 123 9999 or visit