July 18, 2019
By Russell Shaffer, Director – Culture, Diversity & Inclusion, Walmart
When I was 10 years old, my parents took me to an optometrist for a routine eye exam. As a third grader, I thought the worst thing that could happen would be that I might get picked on if I wore glasses.
I did get a prescription for glasses that day. I also received some news that would dramatically change the rest of my life.
The doctor diagnosed me with retinitis pigmentosa, a rare genetic eye disease that results in progressive loss of sight and eventual blindness. After a trip to Boston to visit a specialist, the diagnosis was confirmed.
It would be an understatement to say the news was devastating to an active young boy who loved playing sports. For starters, I needed to rethink my future career now that my dream of playing wide receiver for the Miami Dolphins probably wasn’t going to happen!
I knew I needed a plan for my life – one that looked different than that of my family and friends – if I was going to be successful. That plan included becoming the first in my family to go to college. I was 17 when I walked into the Walmart store in Fairlawn, Ohio – just a few miles up the road from the optometry clinic where I was diagnosed – looking for my first job as a means of paying my way through school. I never could’ve imagined that one day that cashier job could prepare me for my current role working at Walmart’s headquarters in our Office of Culture, Diversity & Inclusion.
I’m proud to work for a company that values me for who I am, and that I’m given the opportunity to use my unique skills and perspectives to create better experiences for associates and customers with disabilities.
Today, I get to be a part of a different kind of vision – one that includes working on strategy and programs designed to make Walmart more accessible and inclusive for all our associates and customers.
One of the ways Walmart and Sam’s Club are doing just that is by working with En-Vision America, a leader in pharmacy accessibility for blind, low-vision and print-disabled individuals. Through this partnership, Walmart and Sam’s Club pharmacy customers who might have difficulty reading their prescription labels can request audible labels that utilize ScripTalk technology developed by En-Vision America.
When a customer asks for ScripTalk, the pharmacy places an RFID tag on the bottle that allows information to be read aloud when the bottle is placed on a small, battery-operated device called a ScripTalk Station.