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Blind Austin man says Ross employees refused to help him shop because of 'policy'

The man said it was the first time this happened to him in the seven years he's lived in Austin.

AUSTIN, Texas — A blind man in Austin is calling for change after he said his trip to a Ross store left him feeling angry.

Qusay Hussein told KVUE in the seven years he's lived in Austin, he hadn't had a problem shopping until Wednesday afternoon.

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"I love Austin 'cause Austin is multiple diversity," he said. "People are very nice, so I was shocked yesterday when I saw this person talk to me like that."

Hussein said employees at the Ross Dress for Less store at Capital Plaza near Interstate Highway 35 and Cameron Road in Central East Austin refused to help him shop.

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He said he spoke with a manager who told him corporate policy doesn't require the store's employees to help customers with disabilities.

"I need to shop, and she said, 'Sorry, our policy does not allow.' And I said, 'But this is not fair.' And I left the store," Hussein said.

He left empty-handed and with an unfamiliar feeling.

"To be honest, I felt very angry," he said.

Hussein reached out to National Federation of the Blind of Texas, which wrote about the incident on its Facebook page Wednesday.

Its president, Norma Crosby, sent KVUE the following statement:

"Blind people have the same need to shop as others. Sometimes we are able to bring our own personal shopper with us, and sometimes circumstances don't permit that. In that case, we must ask for customer service representatives at the retail establishment to help find merchandise. Most stores are gracious about rendering that help. Unfortunately, we have received word that the Ross store in the Capital Plaza area, in Austin, doesn't offer this service to their blind and disabled customers. Disabled people are a part of the economy and want to spend money where we are valued. It is our sincere hope that Ross will find a way to work with our community to ensure that incidents like the one our member experienced yesterday don't continue to happen."

A Ross corporate spokesperson did not answer questions about its corporate policies but sent KVUE the following statement: 

"We regret that the customer had a disappointing experience at our store and are internally reviewing this issue. Ross aims to provide an inclusive shopping environment for all customers."

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Hussein hopes the store uses this experience to become more inclusive.

"It's not just me. So maybe in the future, people with other disabilities, they could go there," he said. "I hope they will change their policy to help us and be good for the community."

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