"TRYING to buy a packet of discount biscuits was a whole new adventure for Ron Bishop Thursday as he took part in the Disability Action Week Shopping Challenge at Hinkler Central.

Usually towering over displays and able to reach top shelves with ease, Mr Bishop discovered that for people in wheelchairs, a trip to buy the weekly groceries can present a minefield of obstacles.

“I was sent out to get the home-brand TimTams, and all the home-brand stuff was on the top shelf where I couldn't reach,” Mr Bishop said.

“All the expensive products were right at eye level, but I was on a budget.”

The experience might have been an unusual one for the competitors, but it is an everyday fact of life for people like Chris Grimes who need a wheelchair to get around.

Mr Grimes struggles to reach some items at the shops, but also finds it hard to read prices and displays which are not at the right level.

Other community members were mentored through their shopping trips while using earplugs to simulate deafness, and goggles for vision impairment.

Even seemingly simple tasks became a struggle when it came time for a contestant with “visual impairment” to buy a can of Heinz tomato soup - and could not tell the different brands apart.

YMCA Bundaberg chief executive officer Ian Rowan found some people lost patience with him as he carried out his shopping expedition in a hearing-impaired state.

“A few picked up that I couldn't hear, and gave me things to read, but a lot of people just talked over me to my support worker,” Mr Rowan said.

“Deafness is a disability that is really difficult, because people don't pick up on it quickly and they can be quite impatient.”

A Disability Directory was launched on Wednesday at a morning tea as part of the Disability Action Week events, offering a guide to local services."


Stumble ThisFav This With TechnoratiAdd To Del.icio.usDigg ThisAdd To RedditAdd To FacebookAdd To Yahoo