Blind man fights to protect hand-made braille labels on Kroger self-checkouts

WILMINGTON ISLAND, GA (WTOC) - While technology advances every day, some are getting left behind... the visually impaired. That's why one man on Wilmington Island took matters into his own hands and created his own Braille labeling system at the Kroger self-checkout on Johnny Mercer Blvd.

"Sometimes I come here late at night like other people do. There's no cash registers open. The only thing open is self checkout," said Frank Coon of Wilmington Island, who has been blind since birth.

As he pointed to the hand-made labels, he showed they all have a purpose. "I have one for the mute, one for go back, one for 'pay now', one for cash, and one for card," said Coon. "I put tape on this side of my Kroger card so I know which side to scan."

For years, he has struggled with shoppers removing the labels, and doesn't understand why.

He admitted, "I don't know. I really don't know. Unless it's Braille and they want a souvenir. I really don't know."

Kroger managers that allowed Coon to execute his invention even helped him strategically place the Braille labels. Coon said this was to avoid inconveniencing others. "So that it wouldn't interfere with - say you - when you come through self-checkout so you can still read the pay now, the card, the cash, etc."

With no harm to others, he's just asking for a little help. He begged, "Please don't take my labels off. I need them when I come through here. If I don't have these labels then that means I've got to stand around and wait until somebody can actually wait on me. And I want to get in and out just like everybody else does."

Coon researched and found screen-readers would not be compatible with the self-checkouts, but hopes Kroger headquarters might take interest in his mechanism.

"I would really like to see some of the tech wizzes from Kroger come in and look at what I've done and see if they couldn't implement it in other stores," said Coon.

Kroger Manager, Chris Walters, says the Wilmington Island Kroger has been in communication with the headquarters, and there has been talk about taking this idea much further.

"We may be able to develop new screens rather than just a tab. So this may be technology we need with one of the largest supermarket chains out there in the United States," said Walters.

In the meantime, you can catch Frank and Rocky thanking Kroger for their support, and asking shoppers to follow the signs and leave them be.