Tips for shopping with a vision loss

The retail industry is working overtime to meet the changes brought on by the 2020 holiday season. Three in 10 will start their shopping earlier, rather than the one in 10 who will procrastinate. Retailers prefer shoppers begin crossing items from their lists sooner than later. They wish to avoid logistical nightmares like higher shipping costs and keeping up with supply and demand. Many retailers even added call-center staff and warehouse space to accommodate the wave of online shoppers and a plethora of orders. 

With the resurgence of COVID-19, The National Retail Federation created an ad campaign called Shop early, Shop safe. They hope to encourage folks to stay out of retail stores and do their shopping online. U.S. consumers spent $21.7 billion online for the first ten days of the holiday season, a 21 percent year over year jump. Retailers, too, are offering deals earlier this year for consumers to take advantage of.

At Outlook Enrichment, we seek to provide the best resources to make your life easier and less stressful. Here are some tips to help you successfully find the holiday gifts you are looking for if you have a vision impairment.

Amazon created an accessible website streamlined for those with a vision impairment and using a screen reader. It also established a department specifically to assist those with disabilities. If needed, employees will describe products and complete purchases. After reaching the page, select an issue. Depending on your need, you can choose to speak with a representative by phone, email or chat. For an added fee, Amazon will gift wrap certain items. Prompts during the checkout process will allow you to select this option if it’s available. If you’d rather someone else wrap your holiday gifts, reach out to your community or post an ad on Indeed or Simply Hired to find someone locally.

Instacart allows consumers to place orders through several stores. These orders can be delivered to your home or picked up at the store’s outdoor pickup location. Amazon and Instacart both offer coupons to help shoppers save money on these orders.

Walmart, Target and other retailers with online and physical locations allow consumers to select delivery options as well. If you have a friend or family member to help you, they can retrieve your items curbside. Like Amazon, some of these retailers offer gift-wrapping services. Check the store’s customer service department if interested.

Some companies design their site with a screen reader mode already incorporated. Simply follow the instructions for putting the site into accessible mode for those of you with a vision impairment.

Using the voice search feature on your mobile device or doing searches on your computer will offer different results. We speak naturally when conducting voice searches. Typing specific keywords or phrases into a computer search box can feel awkward and clunky. Voice searches offer the convenience of multi-tasking versus browsing several sites before deciding which is best. Though different, both search methods are accurate. Try each and see which you prefer. You might come across a website that’s new to you.

Online shopping can be stressful, but it should be an enjoyable experience. After all, gift-giving isn’t about the actual present, but the thought behind it. Take the time necessary to work through your list, then get shopping