Sticking together to help blind shoppers in Gorleston
14:34 23 October 2012
Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2012
Blind and partially sighted shoppers are being given a “life changing” helping hand in Gorleston thanks to a pioneering partnership between a young campaigner and a town supermarket.
Siobhan Meade, who lost her sight as a teenager, has worked with staff at Morrisons to get a braille labelling machine installed at the Blackwall Reach store.
The hand held machine prints labels in braille that can be stuck to cans and packets, allowing blind and partially sighted shoppers to identify similarly packaged food items once they get home.
The 28 year old shops in Morrisons weekly with her guide dog Mac and said she had occasionally got into a mix up with tins when cooking at home before getting her own label machine.
“I’ve had toast and rice pudding instead of toast and baked beans before and opening a tin I didn’t really want, it’s a palaver,” Siobhan added.
“I’ve been using one (a label machine) and I thought if I can use it why not open it out to supermarkets. I approached Morrisons and they were really interested and it just went from there.”
The machine is now available to shoppers once they have finished at the tills and staff can mark up items that might cause confusion.
Siobhan, who writes a monthly column for the Mercury, added: “There’s someone always available to help round the store, the difficulty is when you get home. That’s why the braille labeller is brilliant and I think it’s a great opportunity for blind and partially sighted people to be on an equal playing field in terms of shopping.”
Lee Scane, general manager at Gorleston’s Morrisons, said buying the machine - which is kept at the customer service desk - allowed the store to give back to the community.
“It’s extremely simple to use but the benefits are far far greater for the people that need it,” he added. “It’s life changing for quite a few people because the impact is superb.”
Siobhan now hopes to get more of the label machines installed in supermarkets across the county and even further afield, and is liaising with Mr Scane to push it into the wider community.
She said: “I’d like to spread this initiative not only locally but nationally, and while it’s national we can look at opening it up to other organisations. I think it’s a step in the right direction.”