Learning What you Need

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Saturday, October 8, 2011

Grocery Shopping for the Blind

The grocery shopping skill is used for everyone; I will just be putting a blind twist on it here. There are many different ways to do this, so here are a couple.

Get Organized...hmmm, an absolute running theme in what we do
Keep a grocery list throughout the week, either on a brailler or slate-n-stylus (slate n stylus is truly easiest at a home. Easy to put in a drawer, take out to add an item then slip it back in the drawer because it is so small and compact), yes a Braille Note or other adapted laptop works too, but I am always leery with computerized equipment around food and liquids. A grocery store can mean anything and you will never cry over ruining a piece of paper you brought to the store versus a Braille Note. Bring a calculator.

In school, students can practice this also, except it will be for a cooking lesson at the end of the week. So a list is made with a budget.

Today, this step takes a leap and a bound. Prices can be looked up online, to get the idea of the budget you have and need to stay within and if you are in a big enough town, groceries can be ordered online. What an incredible time saver. Yes, you are going to have to be a bit tech-savvy, but once you learn the ropes in ordering your food online, it is an easy process. In a small town, with a small store, a telephone still does the job.

So let's say you do not want or can order food online. Pick a local grocery store where they will get to know you. You can bring a sighted friend with you, but if you would like to do this on your own, make arrangements for someone at the store to walk through with you and get food items (The ease of asking for help depends on the store, so find a willing one and give them your business). Call ahead and establish this connection so the person is waiting for you when you get there. Take the bus to the store. If at school, take the bus or walk. What a great way to work in an orientation and mobility lesson. When I lived by myself, I would always bring a rolling shopping tote and I would only buy as much as I could fit in the tote, so I could easily get it back home. When you are doing this with students, I bring the reusable shopping bags and they get to carry the contents. Working in the shopping tote should also be used so they have options.

I do also have students who are not handling the food and liquids, keep track of the items as they are being purchased on the braille note and keep track of the total--great math lesson; yes, there are exceptions to every rule, but I always go back to the options thing.

They need the whole experience of making a list, checking prices, calling for assistance at the store or bringing a friend, walking or taking the bus to the store, buying the food, paying for it, packing their tote or bags and getting back home, or school.

We have refrigerators at school and shelves to store the food until we use it. You need to divide these activities up, so we shop one day and cook or bake another. This way the students get to bake their reward and learn shopping techniques in the same lesson. When out on their own, they will have been through this process to know how to do it by themselves better, but as you know a bit of fear of doing this by yourself always enters. Just do it and the fear will go.

When in school it is a greater benefit when you can do this in groups. I have my high school students mentor the young students...or sometimes everyone is learning the same thing and mentoring each other, but being together always adds to the fun.

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