BlindSquare opens up Wellington retail stores for the visually impaired

  • Technology
  • September 6, 2016
  • Sarah Dunn
BlindSquare opens up Wellington retail stores for the visually impaired

Bryan, who has a high degree of visual impairment, says scented stores like Lush and The Body Shop are easy for him to identify, but most visual marketing is of little relevance to the blind community. Many retailers in areas such as apparel are very difficult for Bryan to locate without help: “I could walk past a shop and not know what it is.”

The Wellington City Council has been working with the Blind Foundation and Radiola to introduce a new app called BlindSquare, which uses iBeacons to alert the user to different retail stores as they walk past. If the user chooses to enter a shop, BlindSquare will guide them through the space, offering audio information on the store’s layout and how to find the exit.

Bryan says that without the app, he listens for the voice of shop assistants to navigate through stores. This can be a stressful experience, especially if the path to the counter is not clear: “Something like [BlindSquare] just takes the stress and hassle out of things.”

Wellington City Council community and neighbourhood advisor Anna-Marie Miller says that at the last census, the percentage of New Zealanders with a degree of visual impairment was around 4 to 5 percent. She says that if Wellington becomes known as a disability-friendly city, this could pull in visitors from near and far.

Installation of the iBeacons which support BlindSquare began around three weeks ago. Two hundred iBeacons have been rolled out within central Wellington, with installation complete for 15 so far. Miller says the council will be talking with retailers as it seeks to programme the beacons with details about each shop, reporting that the industry has responded well so far.

“We really see this as a great opportunity and we would like for this to be much bigger,” she says.

Larger retailers interested in participating in BlindSquare should get in touch with the Blind Foundation.

We asked Bryan how retailers without access to BlindSquare could make life easier for visually-impaired shoppers. Here are his suggestions:

  • Ensure your website, ecommerce projects and all related apps are suitable for use with a screen reader.
  • Make sure your stores have open aisles and a clear path to the counter. This is also important for older people, those in wheelchairs and people with pushchairs.
  • If a blind person comes into the shop, or anyone with a disability, don’t ignore them. Don’t position your approach based on their disability, Bryan says, but simply ask how you can help.

This is a community discussion forum. Comment is free but please respect our rules:

  1. Don’t be abusive or use sweary type words
  2. Don’t break the law: libel, slander and defamatory comments are forbidden
  3. Don’t resort to name-calling, mean-spiritedness, or slagging off
  4. Don’t pretend to be someone else.

If we find you doing these things, your comments will be edited without recourse and you may be asked to go away and reconsider your actions.
We respect the right to free speech and anonymous comments. Don’t abuse the privilege.


Macpac has created an online megastore

  • Technology
  • September 13, 2019
  • The Register
Macpac has created an online megastore

New Zealand outdoor equipment retailer Macpac found its website wasn’t keeping up with its $10 million plus international expansion, so it’s invested in a new site which introduces new content, accessibility and a frictionless experience.

Read more

Pak'nSave wins August's Ad Impact Award

  • News
  • September 12, 2019
  • StopPress Team
Pak'nSave wins August's Ad Impact Award

August was an amazing month for advertising and choosing a winner of the Colmar Brunton Ad Impact Award was a difficult task. This month, the honour goes to PAK’nSAVE with their latest advertisement ‘Saveyest Country’, which uses their classic stick man to show how New Zealanders are saving, not just at PAK’nSAVE.

Read more

Spark’s new concept store at Westfield Newmarket

  • Design
  • September 12, 2019
  • Sarah Dunn
Spark’s new concept store at Westfield Newmarket

When Westfield Newmarket opened, telecommunications company Spark took the opportunity to launch a new concept store which prioritised innovative technology and an immersive retail experience.

Read more

Social scoreboard

Zavy and The Register have worked together to create a scoreboard that compares how the top 25 traditional media advertising spenders in New Zealand have performed on social media over the past 30 days, updated in real time.

Concept to closet
Business coverage of New Zealand Fashion Week.
Regional rollercoaster
What does retail look like in 2019 for ...
Town centres
A positive retail environment over the past 12 ...
Amazon Arrival
Keeping up with all things Amazon as it ...
The Retail Yearbook 2017
As we battle our way through the busiest ...
The future is bright
We spoke with four retailers in their twenties ...
Hospitality enhancing retail
Some think food and integrated hospitality offerings will ...
Spotlight on signage
At first glance, the humble in-store sign might ...
Red Awards 2016
The Red Awards for retail interior design celebrate ...
Auckland Unitary Plan
Auckland is changing. The Unitary Plan will decide ...
How to open a store
Sarah Dunn considers what it would take to ...
All things to all people
Kiwi retailers share their omnichannel strategies.
Rising stars
Retail's top young achievers.
Delivering on your promises
The sale isn't over until your item is ...
Retail in heartland New Zealand
Retailers keep the regions pumping, but how strong ...
Women in retail help one another. We spoke ...
The changing face of retail
Shifting demographics are creating big changes in New ...
The retail yearbook
With the help of experts in the retail ...
Retail rogues
We put the spotlight on staff training. Jai ...
Here come the giants
Topshop has arrived in Auckland’s CBD, David Jones ...
From retail to e-tail
Ecommerce has become part of the way mainstream ...
Loyalty in the digital age
How are retailers maintaining loyalty? Sarah Dunn, Elly ...
Window shopping: A spotlight on social media
Sarah Dunn and Elly Strang look at how ...
The Innovators | In partnership with Spark Business
Technology is rapidly changing the retail industry as ...

Trust the process: Is there still a place for liquor licensing trusts?

Liquor licensing trusts are a unique corner of the retail market, but is the model still relevant in our fast-changing business environment? Sarah Dunn weighs ...

Sponsored content

Recruitment with a fresh frame of mind

Frame Retail is the recruitment agency with an eye for fashion retail.


Kathmandu becomes Australia and New Zealand’s largest B Corp business

  • News
  • September 11, 2019
  • The Register
Kathmandu becomes Australia and New Zealand’s largest B Corp business

Listed outdoor goods retailer Kathmandu has secured B Corp accreditation, making it the largest business of its kind to have done so in Australia and New Zealand.

Read more
Next page
Results for
About us.

The Register provides essential industry news and intelligence, updated daily. And the digital newsletter delivers the latest news to your inbox twice a week — for free!

©2009–2015 Tangible Media. All rights reserved.
Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Privacy policy.

The Register

Content marketing/advertising? Email or call 022 639 3004

View Media Kit