Are there any braille standards for shops?

For instance, if a blind person enters a supermarket, how do they find a guide that walks them to where the gloves are, how must the gloves be positioned to be found and ripped together, how can the blind person know at what height the food labels, presumably with braille labels on them, can be found? Also, the shelf ridges would have to be smooth or the blind person would get hurt on the sharp edges.

And finally, is there a standard, or are there any standards, maybe interoperable or as extensions, describing in what order prices, currencies, weights, price unit, or whatever, should be configured?

  • 1
    I see you're making a lot of questions about blindness. If you're that interested on the subject, why don't you contact nfb.org or afb.org? They also have lots of material that may help you without the need to contact them, it's freely available.
    – Devin
    Commented Dec 13, 2015 at 5:44
  • "if a blind person enters a supermarket, how do they find a guide that walks them to where the gloves are" - note that this problem is mostly unsolved for sighted people, as well. Commented Nov 17, 2016 at 10:21
  • I wouldn't call it an unsolved problem. Most people can locate the gloves with ease. Commented Nov 17, 2016 at 14:03

1 Answer 1


Doing a simple Google search for "braille supermarket" the first page of results is mostly around unique instances of single stores offering braille and other services for the visually impaired to customers, in Canada, the US and the UK, and all in the last five years.

Another search, "blind shopping", reveals tips for the visually impaired, or descriptions for the general public, that talk about approaches like shopping with a friend or getting store staff to assist.

This leads me to believe that this an emerging field with no set standard yet.

If you're looking to implement accommodations for the visually impaired, I would:

  • Open a dialogue with local and national advocacy organizations for the visually impaired. Examples in Canada would be the Canadian National Institute for the Blind and the Institut Nazareth et Louis-Braille.
  • Find out from local regulatory and standards organizations about building and architectural practices to put in place for accessibility. This could include following ADA directional sign standards for aisle markers.
  • Reach out to some of these supermarkets that have already opened and try to get their lessons learned and build best practices.
  • Figure out which affordances are realistic, and adjust accordingly. A supermarket today has about 48,000 different products, few of which are labelled in braille. It may be more feasible to print the shop shelf labels with the product name and price both in braille, and use place shelf dividers to delimit each product, rather than get all the suppliers to begin labelling in braille.
  • Work with professionals in the field of accessibility to study the shop and its use by visually impaired clients and see what else can be done.
  • The way I see it blind people need a voice app like Google Now to list "all nearby stores of type X", and for each of these search the shop's server for products in product categories, and for each product category a list of its nutrition contents etc. This info can be updated by a scanner with attached price entry calculator when the items of that type are placed on the shelf. Commented Dec 20, 2015 at 19:42
  • That way the blind person can navigate through the products according to their own dietary requirements and medical conditions without bothering the shop assistant too much. The app then stores the shopping list on the phone and the blind person then goes to the shop and asks the shop assistant for the products sold. But this requires the shop to have a reachable server and the blind person to have a smartphone. Visually impaired people might be able to get away with a magnifying glass but I'm not sure. Commented Dec 20, 2015 at 19:43
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    This sounds like an interesting idea. But before you try and solve a problem, you need to meet with users, understand the problem from their perspective, and find solutions from that perspective. This brings us back to the idea of research. Maybe you'll discover that, for instance, the visually impaired don't like wearing headphones because they need to hear around them when they navigate a store, listening for cues like people's voices and shopping cart wheels rolling towards them. But you won't know until you do your research. And I'm afraid you won't find all the information on this forum. Commented Dec 21, 2015 at 13:08
  • A final note: You're thinking about accessibility! That's more than most, and it's an important first step. Just make sure you include some of your target users early to keep you on track. Commented Dec 21, 2015 at 13:26
  • I am just trying to try my best. BTW, since a blind person also needs to hear what is in their surroundings, just put microphones on the outside of the headphones and mix the sound and send it through the speakers with everything else. Commented Dec 22, 2015 at 6:59

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