We reached out to a few organizations that work with seniors and people with disabilities to see what they think of the change.
One of them was Visiting Angels in Joplin. In an email, Director Michelle Kuehn they say the change could cause confusion for seniors who are used to going through a traditional checkout lane.
“Progress can be good, yet change can be difficult for our elderly population.
1) The lack of knowledge with technology. This could cause confusion and frustration.
2) Personal interactions. This is in some cases the only social interaction a senior may have.
3) There may be questions in regards to payments. Cashiers many times have to assist during the transaction. It is sometimes embarrassing for them to seek someone out for this assistance.
We trust that in their research, Walmart took the seniors into mind, and there will be help easily available.”
At The Independent Living Center in Joplin, they offer a service where someone will go into a grocery store with a client to help. But for someone that doesn’t have that help, they explain the change could make a simple trick more daunting.
“Lifting heavy items, like a case of water or dog food to run through the self checkout. Even lifting your arm to grab the checker gun isn’t always a possibility for people. I would hope that some of these self checkouts if not all of them have some sort of accessibility,” says Ali O’Dell with The Independent Living Center.
Walmart tells us that self-checkout hosts are stationed in all self-checkout areas, and are available to help with system problems, or to even help someone with the entire checkout process.
“Living independently is doing things for yourself. So, if you go to a grocery store and you want to shop but you contently need help from the staff, that might be fine and for some people that may work. But for others, that’s not necessarily living independently,” explains O’Dell. “They want to be able to grab their groceries, pay for their groceries, get in their car and drive away independently and on their own. I mean, the idea’s not horrible. And we can’t assume every person with a disability wants to do it on their own. But we have to keep an open mind that maybe some do, and that’s to be respected. And so I just hope that they make it work for everyone in the community.”
KOAM was not allowed into the Neighborhood Market, but we did ask Walmart if the self-checkout kiosks have accessibility features for seniors and people with disabilities. KOAM has not year heard back from Walmart.