Debenhams has become the first major UK retailer to offer a tailored shopping service for blind and partially sighted customers.

The department store has worked with the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) to identify the main obstacles faced by both the customer and personal shopper whilst trying to shop in store.

From a customer perspective, these included time, brand and social and physical barriers.  76% of blind and partially sighted people find shopping difficult or impossible according to the RNIB.

For the personal shopper it was the difficultly in broaching the subject of sight loss with the customer and how to describe the key features of the garment.

Debenhams personal shoppers have undergone training on how to overcome these barriers, including extensive training on the experience the customer feels, using glasses which imitate various levels of sight loss that include; cataracts and  macular degeneration.

The personal shoppers have been trained in methods such as how to explain the touch and feel of sequins and embellishment, how to describe heel height and style, the difference in look, touch and function of different fastening methods and how to communicate sensitively yet effectively to the customer.

The service will be available in all 167 Debenhams stores across the UK and Ireland.

Debenhams commercial manager for store services Soleta Oliver said: “We are passionate about diversity at Debenhams, and wanted to create something inclusive yet fabulous.”

“The service acts to make shopping an accessible and enjoyable experience for every single person that comes into our stores.”