Are you tired even before you start thinking about shopping for the holidays? Are you looking for ways to find those stocking stuffers without fighting the crowds, looking for parking, waiting for your ride, or you just don’t have time to do all that running around? Well, I’m here to tell you that I hardly do any running around during the holiday season, unless it involves music making and/or partying. I’ve collected a few tips and tricks that have made my shopping for the holiday season less stressful, and hopefully hassle free, and I hope they will help you, too.
How do I do it? I never have to leave my couch. I go online and save! Not only do I save on transportation costs, but I sometimes save on shipping, too.
Since I shop on line, and do not have the ability to look at the pictures, I make it my business to read all the fine print, particularly as it pertains to return policies, shipping charges, product description and reviews. I make sure to keep all those e-mail invoices, receipts and shipping confirmations I receive so that I will have a record of all my transactions. This enables people to return merchandise more easily should the need arise. I also try to find a telephone number in case I need to speak to a real person.
I prefer spending my money at stores that make sure that their websites are easy to navigate because I like to let them know that I appreciate their effort to make their sites disability friendly. If navigating the site is problematic, but I know that this website has specific items that I want to buy, I will try to find a phone number, if possible. Otherwise, I just close the page and move on.
There are many major chains that have made great strides in their efforts to offer blind-friendly websites. Many of them offer apps for smart phones that are easy to navigate and use. “Say Shopping” is an IOS app that is a great iPhone app that is good for people who are not good at spelling. Using your microphone, you can converse with the app and find products. It currently features products available through Target. In the November issue of Access WORLD, published by the American Foundation for the Blind, there is an article entitled “Holiday Shopping Using Your iOS Device” by Janet Ingber. This article is a review of two shopping apps that are completely accessible – the Apple Store app, and the Amazon app. She also reviews “RetialMeNot”, which is not a store; rather, it is an app that provides promo codes, coupons, and much more. Check out the article at the link below.
In addition to the main chain stores and websites with which most people are familiar, there are companies that are somewhat off the beaten track for people outside of the blind community, but offer quality products at reasonable prices. These are companies owned and/or operated by people with disabilities who are entrepreneurs. While some of them may include the word “blind” in their name, they all sell products that are designed to meet everyone’s needs. It’s nice to be able to support one of our own, and it puts my “employment first” money where my mouth is.
“blindmicemegamall.com” is a company featuring several stores in one large, accessible website. You can find everything from electronics to household items, books, jewelry, and more – a virtual “mall” that’s only a few keystrokes or clicks away. You won’t get lost at www.blindmicemegamall.com.
The AT Guys is a great place to find reasonably priced Blindness and Deaf-Blindness products. But don’t be fooled by the name. They have lots of items such as keyboards, headphones, speakers, and other accessories for the cheap geek in all of us. Their free app, available for both Apple and Android devices, called Blind Bargains, shows not only their bargains, but also other sites offering other bargains, as well. There is also a classified section, an audio section where you can find their podcasts, and a news section where you will find important AT news you can use, particularly if you are interested in AT used by people with print disabilities. Visit www.blindbargains.com.
Blind Alive is a company that specializes in wellness products for everyone by providing both verbal and video instructions for their workouts. They offer other products, too, including a special backpack that doesn’t put strain on your back muscles. For all of us who want to be healthy visit www.blindalive.com and feel good about yourself.
By no means has this been an exhaustive list of accessible shopping websites. I encourage you to Google stores you like and see whether their websites meet your needs. I encourage those of you who do not need to use accessible websites also to support companies that make their websites user friendly for all. Let them know you appreciate their effort. I wish all of you a joyful and accessible shopping holiday season!