Customers with disabilities demand diverse accessible concepts

Let’s assess the situation: we asked around the social networks. What do people with different types of disabilities experience day-to-day when they go shopping? We wanted to find out what barriers they encounter, how they deal with them and what they expect from the retail industry.


Photo: Special shelf that can be lowered for more accessibility for wheelchair users; Copyright: beta-web/Lormis

This lowerable shelf was presented at the trade fair EuroShop 2014 in Düsseldorf. Wheelchair users can lower the wanted products to their height by pushing a button; © beta-web/Lormis

Wheelchair accessible shopping

Photo: Norbert Sandmann while shopping with a wheelchair accessible shopping cart; Copyright:

Norbert Sandmann likes using a wheelchair accessible shopping cart in the supermarket. But those carts do not work well with all kinds of wheelchairs and they also offer less storage place; ©

"We must stay outside"

Photo: Door of a dressing room with the symbol for wheelchair users; Copyright: beta-web/Lormis

Dressing rooms often do not offer enough space for customers in a wheelchair; © beta-web/Lormis

Considering not just wheelchair users

Photo: Magnifying glass on a shopping cart; Copyright: beta-web/Lormis

More and more drugstores offer magnifying glasses on their shopping carts. This is a good service for visually impaired people; © beta-web/Lormis

One alternative: shopping online

Raising accessibility awareness

Requirements to be met by retailers for different types of disabilities

(based on the received answers; please note that this list is not meant to be exhaustive or universally applicable)

Customers with limited mobility:

  • step-free entrance or ramp
  • elevators to other floors
  • easily accessible aisles
  • wide checkout areas
  • nearby accessible parking spaces
  • bagging and loading service if needed
  • large dressing rooms
  • automatic entrance doors
  • lower or adjustable shelves
  • wheelchair accessible and easy maneuverable shopping carts
  • seating accommodations inside and in front of stores
  • the option of borrowing an electric mobility scooter

Visually impaired and blind customers:

  • shopping carts with magnifying glasses
  • price and product labels in Braille
  • guidance systems throughout the store

Hearing impaired and deaf customers:

  • employees able to serve customers in sign language

Customers with autism or trauma disorders:

  • reduce noise levels (both music and equipment)
  • fewer visual stimuli (for example more indirect lighting)
  • avoid smells
  • provide assortment consistency (and its organization/arrangement)
  • allow sufficient time and space for bagging
  • allow service animals inside the store
  • offer simpler language on product labels
  • provide (visual) guidance systems on premises

Short statured customers:

  • dressing room doors that reach all the way to the floor
  • low or adjustable shelves
  • low produce stands

General requirements:

  • trained staff
  • consideration
  • understanding
  • respect
Photo: Nadine Lormis; Copyright: B. Frommann

© B. Frommann