Why shouldn’t visually impaired people pay attention to their “look”? In a world doped with social networks which judge only on the external appearance, individuals deprived of sight are even more disabled. From this observation, the association “Un Regard Pour Toi” was created in 2014. In its wake, an eponymous clothing store for the visually impaired was launched in June 2019 in Paris. Listening to members’ needs, the association is also a melting pot of innovations: embroidered labels in Braille, NFC chips, and voice synthesis … there is no shortage of projects.
We visited this unique store in the Montparnasse neighborhood in Paris. This article is also a modest tribute to the efforts made by the 160 volunteers of the association to find solutions for visually impaired people.
Clothing at low prices thanks to the generosity of donors
Approximately 1200 references are proposed in the 80 m² store. The whole spectrum of clothing is covered thanks to donations, which allows offering clothes at very attractive prices.
Initiated in 2018, contacts were successful in 2020. Nearly 10% of these references come from a partnership with Galeries Lafayette. Galeries Lafayette offers some unsold items, which are then proposed with priority to the 300 members of the association. These new clothes are sold at a higher price than the rest of the pieces (between 2€ and 10€).
A store adapted for the visually impaired
Created by Hayette Louail, herself visually impaired, the store could not help but offer a layout adapted to the visually impaired. A large red carpet provides a visual cue for customers who are not blind. Canes can be left at the entrance. All obstacles have been removed from the path. The racks are on the left, and the fitting rooms, larger than average, are on the right.
Innovations to simplify the choice of clothing
What surprised us the most during the visit to the store was the innovative capacity of the association. Ingenious solutions are found for daily clothing problems. They are numerous: how to recognize a garment in a closet? What is the color of the garment I am about to wear? These questions are of no consequence to a sighted person but are insurmountable obstacles for a blind person.
Labels in Braille
The first innovation is embroidered labels in Braille. The association proposes to embroider a word or a short sentence on labels which are then sewn into the clothes. On the day of our visit, an order was being realized for a member who wished to have a code embroidered to recognize his clothes.
But how can we help those who do not read Braille?
NFC chips and voice synthesis
The association has developed an in-house project of NFC chips that can be read (literally) thanks to a voice synthesis box. The chips are infinitely programmable. They are waterproof and can therefore be inserted into clothing.
Self-adhesive labels are also available. They can, for example, contain information on the dosage or the expiration date (in the case of food). This system is also suitable for other uses, such as adding information to food or medicine boxes.