[NFB-Talk] Advice Not Resentment

Judy Jones sonshines59 at gmail.com
Fri Mar 26 16:35:30 UTC 2021

The only reason I wouldn’t call ahead of time, is that sighted people don’t need to call ahead of time, and as Kay said, customer assistance is one reasonable accommodation.


To that end, I totally understand if having to wait a few minutes.





From: nFB-Talk <nfb-talk-bounces at nfbnet.org> On Behalf Of Raul A. Gallegos - NAGDU via nFB-Talk
Sent: Friday, March 26, 2021 8:39 AM
To: NFB Talk Mailing List <nfb-talk at nfbnet.org>
Cc: Raul A. Gallegos - NAGDU <rgallegos at nagdu.org>
Subject: Re: [NFB-Talk] Advice Not Resentment


Hello everyone, for what it's worth, here are my two cents.


First, no one solution will be right for everyone. Second, some folks will feel more comfortable with one solution over another one depending on their own situation, confidence, and skill set. So, please take this into consideration as you continue to read what I have to offer.


Whenever I visit a retail store, I will do one of three things depending on time, location, and comfort level.


1. Use the structured discovery method and explore my own surroundings to find what I need. This can be the most time-consuming if it is a new store and if I am pressed for time because it can take the longest. That being said, if it is a store that I am familiar with, I can generally get to the area of things that I want and either ask a fellow shopper nearby in the aisle I am in for assistance if I need it, or I can use a scanning app from my smart phone. Again, for me this is quite tedious and time-consuming, but also gives me the freedom of not having to wait on an in-store assistant shopper.


2. Ask for in-store assistance. Like has been pointed out on this list, many folks will use in-store assistance. Many times the results will vary because the person assisting might not speak the local language or they may not be literate. Please do not get me wrong, I feel that there is a job for everyone, no matter the circumstances. However, there have been times that the in-store assistant shopper had the IQ of Bubba, the shrimp person from the movie, Forrest Gump. He was very nice, but he could not read very well and he didn't understand the differences between typical 2 percent milk, skim milk, and almond milk. He didn't understand the differences between the different steaks I wanted. In the end, he basically served as a sighted guide and I did the shopping my identifying the products I wanted myself. So, it was almost as time-consuming as my method 1 above. In fact, at our favorite and local H.E.B grocery store here in Texas, the customer service people know my wife and I so well that they know that when a shopper assistant helps us shop, they have to speak English and know how to read. It's sad that it has come to that requirement, but this is based on our own experience. One suggestion I can make about in-store shopping assistant people and requests is that if it's a store you shop at regularly, maybe give them a call ahead of time and ask when a good time might be for you to shop so that a person can be made available. I have found that doing this, especially if it is a store you frequent regularly, they are most accommodating. I am not a legal expert by any definition of the word, but I believe there is a gray area concerning the Americans With Disabilities Act and whether or not the store has to provide a shopper assistant person to begin with. I have heard Yes, No, and Maybe from people more intelligent than me, so if you really want to know, please find this out from someone who is an expert in this field.


3. Shop with a friend of volunteer. If you are not able to take the extra time of exploring things on your own and you don't want to take the risk of a bad in-store shopper, going shopping with someone external to the store might be a solution. This can be done through a volunteer service or through a trusted friend. Here in Houston, the Light House has a volunteer program that people with disabilities can sign up for to go and run errands. The local college also has volunteer services where college students who might be looking for hours will do services as well. While I can't give you specifics because everyone interested in my message will be in different parts of the country, I can say that this is not unique to Houston Texas. Of course, shopping with a friend who doesn't take over because they can see and you cannot is always a good thing. Not only do you trust them, but there may not be any time constraints. Then again, I have shopped a few times with a friend who was in a rush, so there are no guarantees.


In closing, if I choose the in-store shopper assistant and it's taking more than 10 or 15 minutes, I will not wait and fall back on structured discovery method. It has been my experience, and not that I do it for this reason, but that if store employees see a blind person going about on their own for shopping, in-store shopper assistant people tend to be available more quickly. Sadly, this is because of a lowering of expectations since many blind people are perfectly okay with shopping on their own. The times that I do it this way intentionally, I find that I get all kinds of help offers even if I don't want or need them. I will also sometimes use Be My Eyes or Aira, but this can present its own set of challenges because of signal quality inside the store and because not everyone pays for Aira or trusts a volunteer person from Be My Eyes, so this is why I didn't mention them too much.


I hope this helps as I have tried to be as thorough and as understanding as possible considering that everyone is different.


Thanks all.

Raul A. Gallegos / President
National Association of Guide Dog Users, NAGDU
832.554.7285 | RGallegos at nagdu.org <mailto:rgallegos at nagdu.org> 
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"Blindness is a characteristic, not a handicap." -- Dr. Kenneth Jernigan

On 3/26/2021 6:09 AM, Devin Prater via nFB-Talk wrote:

There was one time, when I went to Walmart with a group of other people, when wehad an hour to shop. I sat there at customer support, in my mask, for that whole hour, with them assuring me that they’d get someone to help me, but no one did. In the end, I left that store with nothing that I came to get. Ah well, less money for them that day. But, other times have been better. They just need more customer support staff, trained to work with people with disabilities. Then again, all their staff should be trained to work with people with disabilities.


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