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The Chicago Lighthouse Opens Its "Tools for Living" Retail Store Offering a State of the Art Shopping Experience

For people who are blind or visually impaired, Lighthouse’s Tools for Living is specifically designed to enable ease, efficiency, independence.

The Chicago Lighthouse Opens Its
Chicago, IL, April 20, 2010 --( Recently unveiled, Tools for Living Retail Store is located at 1850 W. Roosevelt Rd. on Chicago’s near west side. The 1,200-foot facility, which has been relocated to the front of the Lighthouse in order to assure easy access for patrons, boasts a full staple of products including talking clocks and watches, desktop/portable CCTVs, GPS, kitchen appliances, image-text to speech electronics, computer programs, games, sunglasses, canes, independent living aids, health and beauty items, Lighthouse apparel, accessories and souvenirs.

But it goes way beyond the offerings of a typical store by providing consultation services as well as offering a spacious layout to ensure ease of mobility and browsing plus innovative features to guarantee customer comfort.

“From the contrasting colors, to the lighting, to the product spacing, everything in this store has been planned, designed, and laid out to accommodate the reduced vision of our customers,” said Dr. Janet Szlyk, Lighthouse executive director. “The overall layout allows people who are blind or visually impaired to enjoy a shopping experience that’s unparalleled anywhere else.”

Dr. Szlyk credits the success of the new store’s design and layout to two Chicago businesswomen, Jennifer Nemec, founder of Ideation Studio, and Keven Wilder, owner of Wilder Inc.

“Without Ms. Nemec’s revolutionary design of our interior space and Ms. Wilder’s expertise in product layout, this endeavor would not have been possible,” she said. “On behalf of everyone at the Lighthouse, I applaud their invaluable contribution and sincerely thank them for making our retail operation a one of a kind experience for the consumer with a visual impairment.”

Ms. Wilder noted that way before construction on the new facility began, she and Ms. Nemec met with Lighthouse staff and program participants to get input on what ingredients go into a positive shopping experience for someone who is blind or visually impaired.

“Many stores are guided by a “grab and go” philosophy,” she observed. “This store marks a 180 degree turn away from that approach in that we wanted to be sensitive to clients who would need a lot of assistance when purchasing products.”

To that end, items in the Tools for Living store are organized in departments with ample room for searching, comparing and testing. In addition, a new section is called “Tom’s Corner” where Tom Perski, director of rehabilitation services, and members of the Lighthouse’s Adaptive Technology Department are available to meet with any customer and answer questions about a product he/she may be interested in purchasing. Mr. Perski also offers advice on portable technology and more advanced items. A flat screen television is located on the wall in Tom’s Corner where customers are shown how to connect devices into their sets at home.

In addition, a staff member from the Lighthouse’s Adaptive Technology Department is available to explain and answer inquiries on computer programs, high tech gadgets and devices, Braille reading/writing machines, etc.

In keeping with the agency’s overall mission to assist people with visual impairments in finding jobs through training, education and placement, the store has hired individuals who are blind or visually impaired and will train others for retail opportunities in the private and public sectors.

Another new feature is a computer which enables customers to utilize The Chicago Lighthouse online catalog/store for efficient online purchases. The computer may also be utilized for product demos or any other vendor provided materials.

“Visually impaired consumers can really test the product before purchasing it in our new store,” said Diane Perski, consumer product specialist. “They can feel, experiment, talk about the product with someone who knows it inside and out. Since these items will be used to improve daily life, we want people to make the right purchase. Our new store makes it easy for people with vision loss to find what they need, shop around and get something that will truly work and make a difference.”

To illustrate the interconnection between all Lighthouse programs for the greater convenience of the agency’s clients, the store is located directly next to the expanded Low Vision Clinic. Doctors from the clinic are able to walk customers to the store and put them in touch with a store representative. Patients will then walk through the store upon exiting the Low Vision Clinic.

To add to their comfort, a waiting area with seating and a cooler with drinks available for purchase, such as water, soda, and juices, have been added to the retail store.

The Tools for Living Store, which accepts payment options in cash, check, Visa, MasterCard and Discover, is open weekdays from 9 am to 5 pm.

Contact Information
Chicago Lighthouse for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired
Dominic Calabrese
Cj Gorelik
Attached Files

Tools for Living Logo
The new logo for The Chicago Lighthouse Tools for Living Retail Store.
Filename: ToolsforLiving.jpg

At The Entrance
The lighthouse illuminates the ceiling in the center of the store. This design feature aims to provide contrast in lighting and serves as a central point for easier navigation throughout the store.
Filename: ToolsforLiving1.jpg

Customers browse the wide aisles during the store's opening day.
Filename: ToolsforLiving2.jpg

Tom's Corner/Adaptive Technology
Adaptive technology devices displayed in "Tom's Corner." Also pictured, a tv set used in demonstrations.
Filename: ToolsforLiving3.jpg

CCTV's & Chicago Lighthouse Clocks
Several CCTV magnifier machines which customers can test prior to purchasing. On the wall, Chicago Lighthouse clocks assembled by visually impaired employees of the Lighthouse.
Filename: ToolsforLiving7.jpg

Tools for Living
Large windows allow for customers to select sunglasses using natural light. In the foreground, one of the waiting areas and a zoomed out view of Tom's Corner/ Adaptive technology.
Filename: ToolsforLiving4.jpg

The checkout. On the wall hangs a Tools for Living logo with protruding lettering and image.
Filename: ToolsforLiving5.jpg

Various sunglasses on display.
Filename: Sunglasses.jpg

Magnifiers on display.
Filename: Magnifiers.jpg

Kitchen Items
Kitchen items displayed featuring a talking, voice operated microwave and coffee maker.
Filename: KitchenItems.jpg

Large print games available at Tools for Living.
Filename: Games.jpg

Phones, Large Button Remotes, & Talking Calculators
Household items featuring large button phones, remotes, and talking calculators.
Filename: PhonesRemotesTalkingCalculato.JPG

CCTV Reading Machine
Close up of a CCTV, electronic reading machine which allows for several strengths of magnification and the ability to change text and background colors.
Filename: CloseUpOfCCTV.jpg

Back Wall of Tools for Living
The back wall of the store. In the distance, measured shelves used to store canes. The storage areas have light colored shelves with dark background, making it easier for customers to browse.
Filename: BackWall.jpg

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