Making Shopping More Enjoyable for People With Physical Disabilities
With the increase in physical disabilities among troops returning from the wars in the Middle East, there is a greater awareness of the challenges that some people face just in going to a grocery store. Shopping for clothes, electronics and gift items can become an ordeal.
In the United States, there are laws that accommodate the special needs for accessibility for those with physical disabilities to shop on their own. In other countries, such adjustments are entirely up to the shop owners. People who are blind, walk with crutches or spend their life in a wheel chair define shopping enjoyment by how little stress is experienced.
Making a Difference
Parents teach their children not to stare at others infirmities for several reasons. One common teaching is that it is rude. Another is that people with obvious infirmities don't want to be noticed. Both reasons are only partially true and in order to create an enjoyable atmosphere for those who cannot see or cannot walk without an aid, we must not be afraid to notice their difficulties, be willing to help do things impossible for them and to stick up for them with store management.
While holding a door for a person in a wheelchair may not strike you as enjoyable, it does set the stage for the chance to shop without the stress of getting into the shop. Pay attention to people who are staring at items that are out of possible reach. Offer to get it for them and put it back if they do not want to purchase it.
Aisle displays and boxes filled with items to be stocked can prevent people in chairs, on walkers or crutches from accessing that aisle entirely. People with sight disabilities could easily trip or run into these items.
Rather than simply notifying the manager of the obstacles, ask that someone be assigned any person with limited abilities to assist them in accessing items on the blocked aisle.
Being unable to see sufficiently to tell the difference between a plastic container and a bag of sugar is exhausting. People with sight challenges have to ask the price of every item, cannot locate items needed, and cannot follow a pointing to hand to some distant object.
Suggest to stores in your locality that they offer to provide assigned clerks to go with those who would like assistance while shopping reaching items too high or too low, reading labels, describing fabrics or textures and allow the customer to leisurely shop at their own pace. Offer to volunteer to be a guide for the store one day a month or one day a week to help their customers who have physical challenges.
Next time you shop, imagine what the experience would be if you were challenged with a physical disability. People who are not physically challenged are needed to help make necessary changes for those who are.
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This article discusses actions you can take to help people with physical disabilities shop with less stress.