‘Shop for cheese with ease’ – SLC event success

Last month, around 30 blind and partially sighted people attended Sussex Sight Loss Councils ‘Shop for Cheese with Ease’ event, to explore supermarket accessibility.

The event, held at the Shoreham Centre in Shoreham-by-Sea, brought together industry experts and local blind and partially sighted (BPS) people to share their knowledge about the accessibility of supermarkets.

We welcomed guest speakers from Co-op, Sainsburys, Morrisons, NaviLens, and Procter and Gamble.

Our guest speakers, from left to right: Dave Smith, Engagement Manager for South East England, Bob Smytherman, Co-op, Bridgett Hunter, Sainsburys, Jo Easey and colleagues from Morrisons, Oran McAlistair, NaviLens, and Paul Gallagher, Procter and Gamble.

Our panel of guest speakers from Co-op, Sainsburys, Morrisons, NaviLens, and Procter and Gamble

Supermarket accessibility

Supermarket ‘Community Champions’ discussed the support currently on offer to BPS customers in store and future plans. They gathered feedback from attendees on supermarket shopping experiences, gaining ideas to enhance accessibility.

We then heard from Oran McAlistair, Client Engagement Officer at NaviLens, and Paul Gallagher, Global Accessibility Leader at Proctor and Gamble (P&G).

They hosted an interactive session which explored accessible product packaging. Oran demonstrated how the NaviLens app can be used to locate products in store and access product information on a smartphone. Paul spoke about P&G’s new ‘tactile language’, and furthermore, how it can help BPS people identify and differentiate products by touch.

Participants were able to handle a selection of products bearing the unique tactile symbols. For example, on P&G products, one vertical line denotes body wash, two lines is hand wash, four lines for shampoo and circles for conditioner. In addition, a laundry detergent is indicated by a circle inside a square above 4 lines. These are currently on some Olay, Herbal Essences, Head & Shoulders, Ariel, Fairy, Daz, and Bold products.

Top Tips Resource

“The spending power of disabled people and their households amounts to £274 billion per year, and a fifth of potential customers will have a disability.”

At the event, Dave Smith, Engagement Manager for South East England, launched the SLCs’ new ‘Top Tips for assisting blind and partially sighted’ customers in store’ resource.

This resource is to help supermarket staff feel more confident when supporting BPS customers. It covers the entire shopping experience from first introductions to paying and exiting.

Supermarket representatives found the resource very insightful and were keen to share it with colleagues across their stores.

‘Top tips for assisting blind and partially sighted customers in store’ resource

We would like to give huge thanks 4Sight Vision Support for all their help in hosting the event. Their support demonstrates just how important collaboration is in creating positive change for blind and partially sighted people.

Paul Gallagher, P&G, and Oran McAlistair, NaviLens, are both standing during their presentation to blind and partially sighted delegates.

Paul Gallagher, P&G, and Oran McAlistair, NaviLens, presenting to attendees

Feedback from the day

Linn Davies, East Sussex Sight Loss Council, said:

“It was great having representatives from three different supermarkets talk about what they do to maximise the accessibility of customers shopping experiences.
“It was also eye-opening to look at how easily products can be made identifiable without too much added cost or labour as a barrier.

“Procter and Gamble have shown us what can be done, and apps like NaviLens can enhance how I, as a blind person, can engage with a product.”

Iris Keppler, East Sussex SLC member, said:

“I had a great time at the event and picked up lots of useful info! I’ll look out for these products while shopping over the next few weeks just to see how it works.

“A huge thank you to the companies who’ve already put thought into making shopping easier for blind and partially sighted people. On my journey home I was thinking how NaviLens isn’t just useful to find products on a supermarket shelf, but can be used at home as well.

“A big thanks to the Sight Loss Councils for setting up such an informative event!”

Lauren Eade, SLC Coordinator, South East, added:

“It was wonderful to see everybody so engaged with the session. The attendees found it helpful and said they will use what they’ve learnt to shop more easily and independently.

“I hope we can continue to work with supermarkets in the future and make them more accessible for BPS people.”

Guest speaker feedback

Oran McAllister, Client Engagement Manager at NaviLens, said:

“I would like to say an enormous thank you to everyone at Thomas Pocklington Trust, East and West Sussex Sight Loss Councils, and 4Sight Vision Support for giving me the opportunity to speak at the retail accessibility event in Shoreham-by-Sea.

“This was an incredibly beneficial event that provided me with a unique opportunity to speak about our common goals in making the shopping experience accessible.

“I received some great feedback from all the participants and I loved having the opportunity to show how NaviLens works in a retail environment.

“Thank you all so much again for your support and I look forward to working together in the future.”

Paul Gallagher, Global Accessibility Leader at Proctor and Gamble, said:

“It was great to share P&G’s accessible packaging innovations with the local sight loss council members and attendees of the event. We look forward to hearing their feedback on our tactile symbols, easy open packs, and NaviLens usage.”

Bob Smytherman, Co-op Member Pioneer for East Worthing , Lancing & Sompting, said:

“As a membership organisation, Co-op is owned by our members and not shareholders. This means our members co-operate together to best meet the needs of our customers.

“Listening to people with lived experience at the SLC event, empowers member-pioneers like me to share our learning with our store managers and head office colleagues. This means that as a co-operative we can continue to be responsive to the accessibility needs of our members.

“We are committed to give the best possible shopping experience, and I hope to share the learning from the event not only with the stores in my area, but across the whole co-op network too.”

Joanne Easey, Community Champion at Worthing Morrisons, added:

“It’s about all staff working together to help our blind and partially sighted shoppers. Having the knowledge and confidence to assist an individual to their chosen product when help is needed.

“Not everyone’s disabilities are visible, and everyone should be treated with respect and inclusivity.”

Paul Gallagher, from P&G, talking to a table of delegates at the supermarket accessibility event.

Paul Gallagher, Procter and Gamble, talking to attendees during the event

Delegate feedback

92% of delegates rated the event as excellent, citing it gave them a better understanding of supermarket accessibility.

“It was really great to hear from and meet others with similar issues. It was brilliant, thank you!”

“I am very happy I attended the event. There are lots of things to learn and try. Thank you!”

“It was very interesting to have representatives from three of the supermarkets, and to learn about the NaviLens codes and P&G product symbols.”

Dave Smith, Engagement Manager for South East England, standing at the front of the room, launching the top tips resource.

Engagement Manager, Dave Smith, launching the top tips resource at the event

Join Sussex Sight Loss Councils’

Our East and West Sussex Sight Loss Councils’ are recruiting new members who live in the local area.

If you are blind and partially sighted and want to improve services for visually impaired people, we want to hear from you.

You’ll get the opportunity to create positive change for others, meet like-minded people, have a voice, receive training and enhance your skills. If you’re interested in public speaking or honing your social media skills, there’s something for you to get involved in.

Join us

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Publication date: 18 March 2024

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