THE Co-operative Group has signed up to the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association's High Street Charter to allow blind or partially-sighted people greater independence when they are shopping.
At the same time, the Group has expanded the number of Co-op-brand products which carry Braille on the packaging to over 300.
There are over one million blind or partially-sighted people in the UK and the Guide Dogs' Charter advises businesses on how to assist them, such as explaining the layout of the store, offering help around the store and with packing goods.
Each Co-op Group food store has been sent an information pack about the Charter, which is also being incorporated into staff training. Co-operative Group Pharmacy branches have also signed up to the Charter.
The Group became the first retailer and pharmacist to introduce Braille on the packaging of its own-brand medicines in 2001. The society later added Braille to its alcoholic drinks labels.
Now it is rolling out Braille to other product lines, chilled and frozen ready meals, meat and poultry, bakery, biscuits, desserts and pet food – at no extra cost to the consumer.
Tom Pey, Guide Dogs' director of policy, commented: `We need more businesses to follow the Co-op Group's example. Braille on packaging is an excellent initiative and, with the Charter in place, blind and partially-sighted people should enjoy an even better shopping experience at Co-op stores.`