Purple Tuesday: ‘Inaccessible websites can take away my independence’
Laura Kennedy is a Merseyside Sight Loss Council member. She lost her sight after developing Acute Retina Necrosis following a virus.
For Purple Tuesday, Laura talks about how shopping has changed for her during lockdown and how inaccessible websites can take away her ability to shop independently.
How has shopping changed for you during Lockdown?
“When I go out clothes shopping, I normally go with friends and family at weekends to a local retail park. They help me around and I choose clothes with their advice and they tell me what colour things are. Since Lockdown, we haven’t been able to do that, so I’ve had to use online shopping a lot more”.
What’s your experience of shopping online been like?
“I’ve had some mixed experiences. Some of the online retailers have very poor website design. The writing is in a grey colour on a white background which is very difficult for someone who is partially sighted to read. The descriptions are very vague on some items. You really have to work hard to navigate your way around the online shop.
“On the other hand there are some shops that are absolutely fantastic. They have very good descriptions of the clothes they have on sale. They explain the sizing, the colours, if the clothes are loose-fitting, tight-fitting, they even have sections on the website for work wear or casual wear.
“Some of the really good shops tell you which outfits go together. That’s very helpful when you can’t see and you can’t work out what would go well.
“It would be really good for shops who are getting accessibility right to get recognised. This would help other retailers to learn and hopefully replicate good accessibility features on their websites.”
Do you think inaccessible websites can have a negative impact on retailers?
“I know a number of people who are blind and partially sighted have actually walked away from websites and told family and friends that they’re not very good. So it benefits the shops to give their customers a good experience so that they get positive publicity.”
Have inaccessible websites limited your shopping choices?
“Yes. It takes your independence away. There’s been a couple of occasions where I’ve had to ask my family to describe an item or tell me the colour, because the website hasn’t been able to give me that information.”
Why is Purple Tuesday important?
“Purple Tuesday is important to raise awareness of the good and the bad experiences. If you go to a company and say you’ve done this well and explain why, it educates people about how we see and access the world.”
Have you started your Christmas shopping?
“Not yet, but I love shopping. I think I must have been a personal shopper in a previous life.
“I love treating other people more than myself. I am planning to do all my Christmas shopping online. It might limit me because I will be going to stores that I wouldn’t look at normally. It will be a whole new experience – assessing how accessible those websites will be. But I like a challenge. I’m expecting a lot of deliveries this year!”