It is important to share what physical changes you are making within the store environment, as well as policy changes, so that your customers have some idea of what to expect. This could include floor indicators, payment zone protective screens, temporary signage, priority opening times and changes to store layouts/one-way systems. Not everyone will be able to see these, so try to include this information across your channels.
If there is temporary signage displayed to advise on layout, policy changes or opening times, try to ensure that the smallest print used is in at least size 14 font - hand-written notes can be difficult for everyone to read. But, where you can, verbalise these changes to your customers.
It’s important to remember that blind and partially sighted people don’t necessarily “look blind”. Not all blind and partially sighted people wear dark glasses, have a cane or a guide dog, so be mindful that it may not always be obvious. If you think that someone might require assistance or they have a visual indicator (which includes wearing the sunflower lanyard), a simple introduction and “Is there anything I can assist you with?”, can go a long way.
From our research, we found that almost two thirds of blind or partially sighted people say they’ve found maintaining a social distance difficult – guide dogs are amazing animals, but they are unaware that social distancing is in force.
Potential announcements such as: “Please maintain your social distance and consider others around you.” could help to support all customers.
Introduce yourself as customers may not see your uniform or name tag – “Hi I’m Steve, your customer support rep, is there anything I can do to help today?”
For more information on how to interact with your blind and partially sighted customers, please refer to our “Helping you to help customers” resource for some useful tips.
We know that sticking to government guidelines and social distancing is very important at this time, but our research shows that 48% of blind or partially sighted people were concerned or anxious about following social distancing guidance correctly. Guiding someone who is blind or partially sighted around the store in the “traditional way” is not currently an option.
Therefore, if someone requires guiding, and there is not a safe and comfortable way in which social distancing measures can be adhered to, discuss potential solutions such as retrieving goods for them, or using verbal guiding techniques in certain situations.
Be mindful of the visual appearance of any temporary signage, ensuring there is clear colour contrast as otherwise blind and partially sighted customers may not be able to read it. Also, try to add this same logic to any online content you create.
We support the use of safe tactile indicators or markers and audible announcements to provide your customers with information in non-visual forms. For example, using tactile floor markers when queuing to enter a store or paying for goods.
For many blind and partially sighted people, identifying products or understanding a space can be a difficult and an extremely tactile process. For example, the need to pick up a product in order to get an understanding of what it is as packaging is often inaccessible, please keep this in mind and to maintain the required level of hygiene, highlight to your blind and partially sighted customer where they can sterilise their hands, baskets and other equipment.
With the installation of protective screens, it’s important to ensure there is good contrast, so they don’t create unnecessary confusion. This can be as simple as putting tape around the edge of the screen and payment terminal location.
We support the use of contactless payment and the increased £45 limit, along with smart device payments across a number of industries. However, for those that need to use cash, be aware that suggesting that this can only be done via a self-service checkout could prove difficult for some customers living with sight loss.
We know that many stakeholders are exploring how to better support their customers with innovative ways of delivering information; such as reducing contact through the use of smart phone apps. We support the use of technology in achieving this and we are here to help you maintain the accessibility and inclusive nature of any solution.
If you are dropping a delivery at a blind or partially sighted customers door, or providing a Click & Collect service, step back, introduce yourself and let the customer know where you have placed the package or delivery. Using specific language, such as: “Your shopping is in several bags to your left in the porch” will be far easier for someone to track than “It’s there” and pointing.
With the ever-changing landscape, it’s vital that we maintain the accessibility of websites, apps, social and all other media content. Good practices can easily be broken in a time of change, resulting in customers being excluded from important information and updates – remember, maintaining accessibility can be the difference between successfully completing a transaction or not.
When making video content, it is also key to consider that the audio narrative does not rely on the visuals and audio description within your content. So, if you create a video, try and see if you get all the information just by listening.