Last Minute Holiday Shopping Tips for People with Vision Loss

With just a few days left before the holidays, many of us are scrambling to shop for final gifts and groceries! Doing my last minute shopping over the weekend reminded me of how hectic finding gifts can sometimes be for those of us who are blind or visually impaired. Today I am sharing some tips and tricks to make shopping easy and fun.

  1. Plan transportation in advance. For someone who is blind or visually impaired, it is important to think about how you will get to the store depending on what you will be buying. If I just need to quickly grab one or two small items, then walking to a nearby store works fine. On the other hand, when shopping for larger or multiple things or at different stores, getting a ride from family or friends or taking a cab might be my best bet. It all depends on the situation.
  2. Ask for assistance at the store. When out and about shopping by myself, I prefer to ask for help from a store employee. I make sure to bring a list of what I need so that they know what to look for. Some stores request that customers call in advance prior to needing assistance. Others (especially major retail stores) only ask that shoppers request help from the customer service desk.
  3. Shop with a trusted family member or friend. For me, this option works well especially when I am picking out things like clothes, shoes or jewelry. I have found that going with someone I know to buy these things makes me more at ease because they are familiar with my taste and how best to describe things to me. Plus, shopping with family and friends is more fun!
  4. Use in-store pick-up. Nowadays, major stores like Target, Best Buy and Walmart offer same-day pick-up. Shoppers order and pay for items online, and they will be ready to pick up at the store location of their choice within a few hours. For me, this option is convenient because I can browse and select products independently using my iPhone, iPad, or laptop and screen-reader. Therefore, I do not need assistance from a sighted individual to locate the desired items.
  5.  Order online. As mentioned above, shopping on the internet is a convenient option for those of us who are blind or visually impaired because we can use our assistive technology to find what we need. Perhaps the most popular online store is Amazon, where we can shop for virtually everything imaginable! Websites like Peapod also deliver groceries. If you cannot make it to a brick-and-mortar store, buying products online might be a good alternative. Note that some websites may have deadlines for when orders should be placed in order to ensure delivery before Christmas. Speaking of last minute online shopping, The Chicago Lighthouse Tools for Living Store has a wide variety of products and souvenirs for everyone on your list! Visit www.lighthousetoolsforliving.com to browse and shop.

These are just some of the tips that help my shopping go more smoothly, both during the holidays and year-round. There’s no doubt that shopping can sometimes present challenges for people with visual impairments, but by planning ahead and following these tips and tricks it can become less cumbersome and more enjoyable!

What other shopping tips do you have? We’d love to hear from you! You can leave your comments in this post, or email us at sandysview@chicagolighthouse.org.

Happy holidays from The Chicago Lighthouse family!

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