Retail Assumptions - Karin's Story

Karin had been invited to a wedding in Australia. Excited, she began to plan what she would wear to the black tie event.

As she is blind and uses a guide dog, shopping for clothes can be difficult. After being ignored several times at her local shopping centre Karin went into the city in the hope of finding her dream dress. When shop assistants finally noticed her and after many ‘are you alright’ statements rather than ‘can I help you’ she managed to get several assistants in a variety of shops to listen to her request.

Each shop assistant invariably took her to the specials section, offered her unsuitable clothing, black skirts, dresses with zips up the back or simply did not understand she wanted something expensive and elegant. Frustrated, Karin returned to her local mall where a different shop assistant in an upmarket shop she had previously visited helped her find a beautiful dress.

Karin is convinced that many levels of discrimination were in evidence, particularly an assumption that it did not matter that she dressed nicely, but more importantly, that the shop assistants assumed that because she was blind she could not afford expensive garments.


Accessibility legislation could require education and training for the retail sector to help them treat disabled people with equality and dignity.


This is my access story, it is one of many. I'm sharing it because I want a law that puts accessibility at the heart of an inclusive Aotearoa New Zealand.

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