Tag Archives: diversity

Aira Service at Target Stores to Help Visually-Impaired Shoppers

At this busy holiday season, consider the (seemingly) simple task of shopping done by an able-bodied consumer. Now consider the same shopping task for someone who has a visual impairment. It must be a much more complex and time-consuming process, and is likely often frustrating waiting for assistance from store employees. After all, not everything can, or should, be done online. For many purchases, shoppers want to feel materials, sniff the freshness of produce, or have more information about the item.

Enter a service from technology company Aira and combine it with Target’s retail stores. Aira connects people who are blind or have impaired vision with highly-trained professionals who help provide visual information on demand via smartphones or wearable devices. The service blends wearables and smart phones with artificial intelligence and augmented reality. Aira’s mission is to make visual information accessible to anyone, anytime, and anywhere.

Target’s accessibility team worked with Aira to deploy a pilot program to 600 Target stores in 13 different markets. Shoppers in those areas can use Aira for free on a smart phone to receive on-demand information while shopping. Shoppers sign on with the Aira app and connect with customer service agents working remotely. The agents use the phone’s camera to guide shoppers through the store and describe items in detail.

The Aira service is also available at more than 40 airports and major public transit systems and college campuses. Not only can Aira agents provide direction and information, they can also read ingredients on boxes, understand color options, and have graphics described.

Now that’s progress.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the consumer buying process.
  2. While the buying process may vary slightly for different products and target markets, the basic 5-step process remains the same: problem recognition, information search, evaluation of alternatives, purchase decision, and post-purchase behavior.
  3. How does the process change for visually-impaired consumers?
  4. Show information about Aira: https://aira.io/
  5. Videos are available on the Aira video channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvTWpoo6BVrn2pOFreWQGGw
  6. Information on how to use Aira at Target: https://aira.io/target
  7. How should the Aira services be marketed?

 

 

Source:  Kumar, K. (6 December 2019). Target offers free service for visually impaired shoppers at 600 stores for holidays. Minneapolis Star Tribune.

 

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Finally – Female Army Soldier Toys!

It may have been a while since we played “Army,” but most of us can recall the little green plastic army men that we used to declare war on our siblings and friends! Those little toy men offered hours of inexpensive play and imagination. But, note the key word here: “men.” Where are the female soldier figures? After all, women have been in military service and combat for decades. Why haven’t the figures changed to reflect the new military? Good question.

After a fruitless search looking for female soldier figures, a six-year old girl in Little Rock, Ark., decided to write letters to toy companies asking for female soldiers. One company, BMC Toys based in Scranton, Penn., replied to her about the request. The company had been considering offering female figures, even going so far as sketching the female soldier figures in classic Army poses. The letter finally made the decision for the company and the new toys will be released in 2020. The feedback has already been overwhelmingly positive and preorders are being requested. BMC plans to launch a crowdfunding campaign to help promote the toy and gain funding.

Let’s play Army!

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the role of gender in toys with students. Have students list toys that are oriented to boys, and toys oriented to girls.
  2. What makes them different? Should there be different toys by gender?
  3. Show news video about the girl Army toys: https://youtu.be/i_eYnv_pCZs
  4. BMC blog post about the toys: https://bmctoys.com/blogs/news/bmc-toys-plastic-army-women-project
  5. Have students search for female soldier toys on Amazon. What did they find? (What they will find are ‘pink colored’ soldiers, but still in male forms.)
  6. Next, divide students into teams. Have each team choose one of the male or female toys and develop a new product that would appeal to both genders.
  7. Have each team also develop a marketing program for the new toy.

Sources: Chicago Tribune, CNN, CBS Evening News, Fortune, and other news sources.

 

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Gender-neutral Dolls for Creating Your Own World

Barbie dolls have been around for 60 years and have mirrored many of the changes in culture and society. Barbie has been a politician, actress, musician, doctor, nurse, astronaut, and more. But there is a point where no matter how many changes Barbie goes through, she will always be seen as the iconic Barbie doll, and that doll does not reflect how many children view themselves and their world.

Today’s society increasingly is rejecting labels and embracing diversity. Mattel’s new line of dolls – the Creatable World doll – is still high-fashion, but the dolls reject labels and invite everyone to play. The dolls are designed as gender-neutral and can therefore be dressed and accessorized to adopt to many types of children – male, female, transgender, gender-fluid, and non-binary. In other words, the Creatable World dolls can be turned into virtually every different child’s gender and appearance.

The dolls look like a 7-year old child and have makeup-free, polished faces. There are various wigs, accessories, and clothing wardrobes. Dolls come with versatile pieces of clothing that give kids the freedom to make the characters whoever they want them to be. The dolls give kids a blank canvas with which they can create their own characters. Mattel uses the hashtag #AllWelcome to encourage a world where everyone is invited to play.

What are you waiting for? Let’s play!

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Divide students into groups. Have each group 10 of their all-time favorite toys.
  2. Build the list of toys on the board and challenge students to examine the list.
  3. Are these toys gender-neutral, or are they directed at boys or girls only?
  4. Discuss with students how toys can reflect society and cultures.
  5. Show the video: https://youtu.be/-hGu4hPSNXI
  6. View the dolls at Mattel: https://www.mattel.com/en-us/creatable-world
  7. What other toys could use this approach?
  8. How should Mattel market the new dolls?

Sources: Lee, C. S. (26 September 2019). Mattel releases line of gender-neutral Creatable World Dolls. Advertising Age.

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