Shopping when you’re Visually Impaired

Hello all, 

Been having a bit of think about what the next blog post would be. After some deliberation and a spark of inspiration it hit me…. Shopping! 

Today we went to M&S to do some Christmas shopping. It is better to go during the week for me as it is not too busy and therefore not overwhelming…well….

When we got inside I felt OK as it was not too busy at all. Then we wandered around and after a few moments I felt a bit like my heart was racing a little faster than normal. I told myself it was OK and just reminded myself why this was.

Why was this you ask?

One of my visually impairments is Cerebral Visual Impairment, which means my eyes and brain don’t always get along. The messages my eyes are receiving are not being interpreted by brain. This isn’t great, but now that I know why this is it’s easier to manage the emotions which are caused by it.

I will write you something about CVI later on. But if you want know more, please check out the CVI Society.

When we were in M&S I became quite overwhelmed. One of the reasons for this is that there is a lot of colour and shapes and the lighting is quite intense (hence why I wear sunglasses)

Having colours can be very helpful in some ways as it means colours can be associated with things. For example, if I am trying to find the right size of clothing, I can say size x is y colour. Then I am not having to look for small writing. This is great for my Nystagmus, so I don’t have to focus on tiny writing. But its not great for my CVI because if there’s a lot of colour and shapes and ‘stuff’, my head just goes ‘waaah…wait…hang on….nope. Too much information at all once…’ This will then result in either a ‘shut down’ or ‘meltdown’.

A shut down is where everything just needs to stop and I need to sit down. Preferably on the floor to feel grounded and allow myself to sit eyes closed and head in hands. It reduces my need to take in sensory information. 

A meltdown is similar in that it is your body telling you no! It is a way for you to physically express the emotions you can not verbally express during a melt down. This is not, I repeat not, the same as a toddler having a tantrum.

Shopping can be very stressful for those with CVI and we need coping mechanisms. One of which is going shopping on a quieter day. We shouldn’t have to just shop online. This can be just as bad if website accessibility is not user friendly. But that’s a blog for a different time. 

One thing I like to do which is important to those of us who are Visually Impaired is feel the clothing. As we don’t have the ability to take in things visually in the same way seeing people do, yes I am calling you that, we rely on our other senses. I found some great PJs  and they went straight in the basket after I felt how soft they were.

I was mooching around the bedding section, I love bedding, only to find myself feeling all the fleecey stuff. I stopped and said excuse me to someone who’s trolley I nearly bumped into, but they said it’s OK and let me go past. This was nice as they recognised my cain and didn’t tut at me. Which does happen.

Anyway, overall M&S was nice and I like shopping there for various things. They are always happy to help. Which is a massive part of shopping. 

Have a nice evening all and let me know what you think in the comments below. 

Thank you,
Philippa B. 

1 thought on “Shopping when you’re Visually Impaired

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