Trader Joe’s enlists app to assist autistic customers

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Trader Joe’s is employing an app to help people with cognitive and intellectual disabilities shop for groceries.

Monrovia, Calif.-based Trader Joe’s said Friday that it has partnered with Magnusmode, a Toronto-based provider of solutions for the autism and disability communities, to offer MagnusCards, a free app that guides autistic and developmentally disabled customers through the shopping experience.

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The specialty grocer noted that it’s the first supermarket to provide Magnusmode’s app.

“Creating a positive and inclusive shopping experience is our utmost priority, so we’re thrilled to be able to offer our customers this wonderful tool,” Kenya Friend-Daniel, spokeswoman for Trader Joe’s, said in a statement. “It’s a tremendous opportunity to further support our customers and their caregivers.”

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Trader Joe’s is providing five Card Decks under the app’s “Shopping” section, including “Checking Out Your Items” and “Sensory Experiences in the Store.”

Through digital “Card Decks,” MagnusCards uses visual cues and step-by-step instructions, with optional audio enhancement, to help developmentally disabled shoppers navigate tasks and activities that might feel challenging or overwhelming. Trader Joe’s said it’s offering five Card Decks within the app, with each deck focusing on an aspect of the Trader Joe’s shopping experience, such as “Checking Out Your Items” and “Sensory Experiences in the Store.”

“Grocery stores can be challenging places for individuals with autism, but the basic necessity of buying food and the simple pleasure of selecting what you plan to eat is vital for all people,” said Nadia Hamilton, founder and president of Magnusmode, whose U.S. office is in Buffalo, N.Y. “Trader Joe’s MagnusCards provide support for a critical skill set that everyone needs and a fun experience that everyone deserves.”

MagnusCards by Magnusmode can be downloaded at no charge from the Apple App Store and Google Play. Trader Joe’s said its MagnusCards are located in the app’s “Shopping” section. Magnusmode offers a dozen MagnusCards Card Decks, including Leisure, Money, Safety, Shopping, Food, Cleaning, Health, Social, Personal Care, Travel, Attractions and School/Work.

Trader Joe’s announced its collaboration with Magnusmode on World Autism Day (April 2) and in tandem with Autism Acceptance Month, which is held in April. Overall, the specialty grocer operates more than 515 stores in 42 states and Washington, D.C.

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