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China Daily Global / 2021-02 / 09 / Page006

Supermarket alters store to aid visually impaired

By ZHAO YIMENG | China Daily Global | Updated: 2021-02-09 00:00

A supermarket specially equipped to accommodate blind customers in Yuncheng, Shanxi province, garnered public attention recently after a customer uploaded a video online showing visually impaired people shopping without obstacles.

In the video, a visually impaired customer was shopping alone on the barrier-free path in the supermarket that was renovated half a month ago. Along with the path, the supermarket also set up a separate shopping zone, printed Braille labels on products and installed quick pay devices for people with disabilities. "I hope paths like this everywhere can be scientifically designed and truly used for people," a comment for the video said.

Li Weixuan, the owner of the supermarket, told guancha-an online news and comments aggregator-that his visually impaired elder brother inspired him to make the changes. "My brother said he always bumped against barriers in the store, making trouble for the shop assistants, and that's why he doesn't go to the supermarket anymore," Li said.

Li designated a special zone for barrier-free shopping near the entrance of the supermarket, where goods have Braille labels and price tags. Guide dogs are allowed to enter the market, and paths have been created for the blind around the entrance. Visually impaired customers can follow the lanes to a dedicated cashier and then to the exit.

Customers can make payments by holding up their smartphones to the new quick pay devices without opening any app, Li said.

Asked by netizens if they could copy his idea and apply it elsewhere, Li said he was willing to share his experience with other supermarkets. "When it comes to public benefits, there's nothing wrong with copying," he said.

Li's efforts have been warmly received by his patrons.

A visually impaired woman surnamed Zhao said she used to need family and friends to accompany her, but the barrier-free path in this supermarket is really convenient.

Another customer commented on a feedback brochure: "I have never seen lanes for the blind being created in a supermarket before. It's very warmhearted of the owner to notice the needs of a minority. Thumbs-up to him and his devotion to public welfare."

Dangerous accidents due to illegal blocking of such paths are not unusual.

In September, two visually impaired people encountered more than 30 obstacles, such as trees, wells and telephone poles, on a 300-meter-long path for the blind, which resulted in them receiving several wounds on their knees, according to Xinhua News Agency.

In October, the local government in Yuhuan, Zhejiang province, launched a rectification of defective blind paths that collapsed or didn't have signs indicating the designation.

Earlier this month, a woman with brittle bone disease fell from her wheelchair while traveling through an incomplete barrier-free facility. She later died in the hospital. More people like supermarket owner Li are expected to voluntarily renovate barrier-free paths to aid people with physical disabilities.

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