Is Shopping in a Wheelchair Hassle-Free?
Shopping is rarely hassle-free, too little aisle space and inaccessible “accessible” dressing rooms. And when I went to exchange a pair of jeans, I encountered a barely-accessible checkout line. My wheelchair was too wide to navigate the line. I parked myself at the front of the line and waited to be called the cashier.
Most consumer research failed to consider customers with mobility issues – such as those having to shop from a wheelchair. Many of the problems wheelchair shoppers face are unintended. Store design choices can seem like good practice, but in reality, there are problems with aisle width and display height. For example, store designs with entry steps present an obvious problem.
Our wheelchair is our best friend when the legs do not work. However, frustrations and challenges plague our shopping experience. Shopping can be an ordeal with physical limitations. Being in a wheelchair and shorter than walkers, we often get overlooked. A shopping partner may have to move racks and shelves to make way for a wheelchair.
Dressing rooms without handlebars or narrow doors make it a pain to try on clothes. No one likes to ask store assistants for help. Not to mention shopping aisles that are not wide enough to roll down and browse just gives us a headache. Checking out can be another adventure. Parked in a line of standing shoppers, makes you feel small. The height of the credit card machine is always slightly too high, where the store lights cause a glare on the screen that makes the bill bearly readable.
Did you know, a lot of stores use the accessible changing room as storage. We now have to wait for employees to move the items to try on things. Using the accessible changing room as storage shows, we are an afterthought. Some stores have a no return policy. So if you can’t fit into the changing room so, how do you know if it will fit?
Luckily, a solution is to shop online and to choose what you want and try it on at home. An alternative we did not have 20 years ago.