Making Retail Accessible in Greater Manchester
LAST week more than 40 blind and partially sighted people attended a ‘Making Retail Accessible’ event organised by Greater Manchester Sight Loss Council.
The event, held at the Holiday Inn in central Manchester, gave blind and partially sighted people the opportunity to share their shopping experiences to guests from the Arndale Shopping Centre and John Lewis & Partners.
During the evening people attending the event also spent time exploring technology that could help them when out and about shopping.
Kelly Barton, North West Engagement Manager, said: “It was fantastic to see so many people at our event. They spent time with representatives from the Arndale Centre, John Lewis and on our tech table where they could try different apps to identify items and barcodes.”
Blind and partially sighted people outlined some of the difficulties they have had when out shopping.
These include locating items in shops, needing more help from retail staff, better lighting in shops and the need to keep walkways clear.
Deborah Hatfield, Marketing Coordinator for Manchester Arndale, said: “It was fantastic to have the opportunity to speak to visually impaired people about what is important to them when it comes to retail. We gained valuable insights into how we can further improve our offer and increase accessibility for all.”
Wendy Mannion, Events And Marketing Coordinator John Lewis, Trafford, added: “Myself, Kerry and Carole felt very fortunate to be part of this event on behalf of John Lewis, Trafford Centre. It was extremely interesting and we took away positive and constructive feedback for us to work on going forward.”
Michael Allan, who attended the event, said: “I really enjoyed coming along to this event. Having the chance to talk to retailers about my experiences was so useful. I also had a great time trying out some of the apps such as Seeing AI that will help me when I’m out shopping.”
Kelly added: “The event was really interactive. It was great to see so many people engaged.”
Greater Manchester Sight Loss Council members are keen to use the feedback gained from this event to help them move forward with retail projects across the region.
Every year Sight Loss Councils organise events to raise awareness of the importance and benefits of accessibility to retailers on Purple Tuesday. We created a handy guide for retailers.