For anyone not being able to read Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean, and/or Japanese, an Asian supermarket is one confusing place. For most items, the only thing in English is the tag that states the price of the product. Luckily, some products have nice images so you can sort of guess what you’re going to get. An OCR app probably wouldn’t help because of custom fonts and all the clutter. So here are some of your options if you don’t read the aforementioned languages-
1. Get a friend along who can read and understand the language
2. Learn the language
3. Annoy the employees by asking about every damn item
4. Never visit the stores and/or Search and order online instead
An average person may not have enough motivation to learn the language. Most customers want to be nice and less annoying, so option-3 is out. If you like Asian food and want something now, option-4 isn’t really an option. I have some nice friends who sometimes accompany me to the stores to help me buy stuff. So, by now I kind of know what I am buying if I go by myself, but not quite. Reading the instructions to cook is another hurdle/nightmare and I generally end up posting the image on WeChat where I crowdsource the English version.
Looking for the English text (Nani??)
Can’t. Read. Instructions. (Turned out to be delicious though)
Now imagine a person with bad eyesight or worse, blindness. Or maybe someone with attention deficit disorder, autism, or anything else that makes life more difficult. You know where I am getting at. Most of the time, we (those without such disorders/ diseases/ disabilities) fail to see these problems. ‘User Empathy’ is one of the first things that we are taught while learning design. But we truly start understanding issues only once we face them ourselves. Yet, we conveniently forgo accessibility. It is seen as secondary or unimportant. I suspect that these people would outright avoid places (go with option-4) where they have trouble navigating.
I assume that the reason many of the Asian stores don’t bother to use English is that most of their customers have no trouble with one or more of the used languages. So why would they bother to make a change? But here I am, probably the only brown customer of the day, or one of the very few non-(East) Asians of the evening, wandering the store trying to pick grocery based on pictures or previous experiences.
It’s likely worse for those who require accessibility, even at local supermarkets like Coles or Woolies. Why would stores make changes to accommodate someone who represents a tiny fraction of their customer base? I am sure there are hundreds of well-written documents and papers out there that would tell why.
For me, it simply boils down to humanity- are you considerate enough?
I have been considering a website redesign for the longest time. Unfortunately, I use the applications with GUI as I have only a basic understanding of code. But I hope that I can make my website accessible with my limited flexibility.