French charity helps blind people go clothes shopping

A French charity has created a service to help visually-impaired or blind people go clothes shopping more easily and confidently.

22 November 2019
The service can help blind people to have a better clothing shopping experience
By Connexion journalist

The Un Regard Pour Toi association has a team of specially-trained personal shoppers, who have learned to describe the colours and style of clothes very precisely, such as comparing clothes or styles to emotions, to help visually-impaired people have a more friendly, productive shopping trip.

The personal shoppers also help people make choices designed for their lifestyle, such as allergies, body shape, activity levels, work or mobility requirements, and even the needs of their pet.

They can accompany people on shopping trips, or even come to their home to help sort out their wardrobe, and give advice on existing outfit combinations.

The association also has plans to open its own boutique in Paris next June. It will use a phone app to help blind people scan items of clothing, which will then help them identify them. It is also encouraging clothing manufacturers to create clothing labels with Braille, to allow more blind people to “read” them.

One visually-impaired woman named Marinette, who used the service, spoke to news source 20 Minutes about her experience.

She said: “I am very careful about the image that I send out. I like it when my colleagues give me compliments on my outfit at work. If I need something very precise, I can go shopping alone. Running trainers, for example; I’ll go to a specialist shop and they can help me. The look is less important than the comfort.

“[But for more stylish clothes] we communicate a lot [with the personal shopper]. I might explain that I have quite a relaxed style; that I like soft, pastel colours; or in summer, I prefer light tops in synthetic materials and somewhat brighter colours, because I have a white cat who sheds a lot of fur.”

One of the personal shoppers, Jennifer, said: “The [association] teaches us things you would never have thought of, such as how to describe a colour to someone who has never been able to see. We might compare it to an emotion or an object.

“To help them understand a piece of clothing that they can’t see, I might compare it to something they already have in their wardrobe, or to a situation, such as work, or a drink with friends.”

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