Shop RNIB Donate now

Six ways RNIB have helped make businesses more accessible

We’re working hard to make sure that measures are being put in place to make businesses and supermarkets more accessible for blind and partially sighted people.

Image showing social distancing sticker with footprint design.

Find out about the six changes that we have advised supermarkets to make to improve accessibility and shopping experiences for customers with sight loss.

Six important changes

1. Helping Aldi “green light” its store entry traffic light system

In May Aldi talked about its planned traffic light store entry system which used red and green lights to indicate when the next customer could enter the store. The system was intended to “control the number inside based on the store’s capacity and social distancing guidelines”.

Worried about the inaccessibility of this visual setup for blind and partially sighted people, we got in touch with Aldi who explained the issue to the supplier of the system Ocucon. We worked with the two businesses to develop the addition of an audio alert to tell customers when they can enter the store, making the system much more accessible for blind and partially sighted people.

2. Guiding IKEA’s staff on how to support blind and partially sighted customers

Furniture giant IKEA has shared RNIB’s guidance with 23 stores across the UK and Ireland and is working to ensure its 12,000 co-workers are aware of the needs of blind and partially sighted customers.

An IKEA spokesperson said: "Our stores will now be able to use the information provided by RNIB to ensure that all co-workers are fully aware, should any of our blind or partially sighted customers require support."

3. Tesco tapes up its Perspex screens for visibility

Tesco has included our best practice guidance information in a briefing to all of its stores. It has pledged to address challenges such as aisle flow and social distancing and will create a reminder that some customers may need to bring someone with them to support them. Tape has been sent to all stores to ensure the Perspex screen openings and ends can be easily seen.

4. Aiding McKeevers Chemists to support its blind and partially sighted customers

McKeevers Chemists has circulated RNIB’s best practice to its entire group of pharmacies and is “hoping to alleviate some of the pressure and uncertainty for those affected by sight loss when visiting their local McKeevers Chemists.”

It said it is proud to support the Royal National Institute of Blind People during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We can only try and understand how difficult it is for the blind and partially sighted community to maintain the government’s guidelines in relation to social distancing."

McKeevers Chemists Representative

5. Updating priority hour to include hidden disabilities at Waitrose

Waitrose has re-worded in-store statements to ensure customers with disabilities – whether they’re visible or non-visible - are included in the elderly and vulnerable priority hour. They’ve clarified people who are escorting blind or partially sighted people can enter with the person they are escorting.

6. Even more engagement with UK supermarket chains

Along with the above, we’ve been keeping in touch with all major supermarket chains in the UK  to make them aware of the challenges people with sight loss face when it comes to socially distancing. Iceland has circulated RNIB guidance to all stores where managers have been asked to print it off and ensure it’s visible in the staff restroom notice boards.

Spar in Northern Ireland has circulated the best practice guidance to all stores and are working closely with the local community volunteers to understand the challenges that social distancing brings to those with sight loss.

Co-op has shared RNIB’s best practice guidance across their regional networks and used the guidance as a training tool to educate their staff to the needs and requirements of those customers with sight loss.

How can I help?

You can read RNIB’s guidance for businesses on our website. We have specific guides for the retail and leisure sectors.

Please share it with your employer or any businesses you’d like to see improve their accessibility.

Contact [email protected] for more information.