Abstract

This study represents a first attempt to investigate the need for universal retail design in Canada. Specifically, the research objectives were to expand understanding of the unique challenge of visual impairment and the shopping experience of visually impaired consumers, and to identify gaps in retail design in order to better serve the visually impaired community. The researchers conducted three focus group interviews with a total of 17 informants recruited by an independent consultant who was affiliated with a visually impaired advocacy organization in the Greater Toronto Area in Ontario, Canada. Data were transcribed and then analyzed using QSR NVivo 8. Findings suggest that mobility is the biggest daily challenge facing visually impaired consumers. Retail shopping involves significant effort at every step of the process for visually impaired shoppers, including getting into the store; judging product quality; distinguishing colour; reading labels, store signage, and receipts; negotiating store layout and fitting rooms; dealing with store lighting; and interacting with sales associates. This paper identifies visually impaired shoppers’ needs for universal retail design, discusses implications, and makes recommendations to policy makers and industry practitioners in the defined fields.

Keywords:

Needs Assessment, Shopping Experience, Universal Retail Design, Visually Impaired

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Jul 7th, 12:00 AM

Retail Design and the Visually Impaired: A Needs Assessment

This study represents a first attempt to investigate the need for universal retail design in Canada. Specifically, the research objectives were to expand understanding of the unique challenge of visual impairment and the shopping experience of visually impaired consumers, and to identify gaps in retail design in order to better serve the visually impaired community. The researchers conducted three focus group interviews with a total of 17 informants recruited by an independent consultant who was affiliated with a visually impaired advocacy organization in the Greater Toronto Area in Ontario, Canada. Data were transcribed and then analyzed using QSR NVivo 8. Findings suggest that mobility is the biggest daily challenge facing visually impaired consumers. Retail shopping involves significant effort at every step of the process for visually impaired shoppers, including getting into the store; judging product quality; distinguishing colour; reading labels, store signage, and receipts; negotiating store layout and fitting rooms; dealing with store lighting; and interacting with sales associates. This paper identifies visually impaired shoppers’ needs for universal retail design, discusses implications, and makes recommendations to policy makers and industry practitioners in the defined fields.

 

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