How to go Christmas shopping when you’re blind

Shopping bags filled with items

Everyone knows that going to the shops in December is a challenge, but what about braving the Christmas rush when you’re blind? RLSB’s Online Communities Assistant, Kevin Satizabal, shares his handy tips for getting the Christmas shopping done when you’re blind:

I don’t know about you, but I’ve left my Christmas shopping very late. Actually, I haven’t even started it yet. I know I know, I never learn… so having totally missed the Christmas post deadline; I’m going to brave the busy shops and get all my gifts bought in store before the big day. But how do I shop independently when I’m blind?

Get your shopping list on your smart phone

Before heading out of the door, I make sure to write up a shopping list on my phone. I like to keep things simple and write up what I need in my Notes app on my iPhone. Making a list keeps you focused on the items you need.

Make sure you add a new line between each list item and then you can navigate down each item by swiping down a line at a time. Easy!

Get assistance in store

I’ve found most shops will provide me with a shopping assistant if I turn up and ask for it. Sainsbury’s are particularly good in my experience, but if you’re unsure just give your store a call in advance and pre-arrange the assistance.

The assistant will either go round the shop with me and help me choose items, or they’ll get them for me and come back and help me pay. Personally I prefer going around with the shopping assistant, because then if they spot any offers or deals they can let me know about any offers I might not have known about. Everyone loves a bargain, right?

Get a personal shopper at Debenhams

Clothes aren’t my forte, in fact generally speaking clothes shopping terrifies me, but Christmas is the one time of the year when I can’t avoid it. So this year I’ll be making use of Debenham’s free personalised shopping service.

All you need to do is book an appointment beforehand. You will be taken into a private fitting room and a trained personal shopper can advise you on gifts for yourself or a loved one. There’s no obligation to buy, you get a drink on the house and it’s all completely free (until you pick out all the clothes you want to buy that is!).

Online grocery shopping

Are you buying the Christmas turkey, goose, duck, chicken, beef, pork, or veggie meal this year? Well you can go grocery shopping in store and get it delivered, or do it online and never set foot inside the shop.

Last Christmas I used the Ocado iPhone app. It’s really accessible with Voice Over. You can easily set up your shopping list, and adding an item to your virtual trolley is easy. You just swipe up and if you want more than one item keep swiping. Beware though, don’t get swipe happy. That happened to me and I ended up with far too many grapes… (five 750g punnets in fact). Grape smoothie anyone?

I hope these tips are useful, and if you have any tips, why not let us know on our Facebook page?

Happy last minute Christmas shopping!

Update: In January 2017, RSBC merged with the Royal London Society for Blind People (RLSB). Although we are now called RSBC, there may be some references to RLSB in this blog.

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