The consequences of poor communication in packaging for the blind and partially sighted

For any consumer, it’s important to know what goes into a product, for reasons ranging from health to allergens to religion. But or those who are blind and partially sighted, this is often difficult without having packaging that makes this information accessible.  

Some companies have provided solutions. For example, NaviLens has worked with brands such as Pringles ​and Quorn ​to provide on-pack QR codes that will read out the ingredients once activated. Roland DG itself can directly print braille as well as QR codes for NaviLens, and plans to work with brands to help provide accessible packaging. However, in the overall packaging landscape, many are still dissatisfied.  

In a study of 500 ‘visually impaired’ UK adults, Roland DG found that 81% believe brands should be forced to make packaging that is more accessible to them, and that legislation should be in place to ensure these products are accessible to all. However, 37% felt that brands don’t make the necessary effort to ensure the accessibility of packaging.

This isn’t just a feeling, but has direct consequences. A whopping 74% of respondents picked up a product that they didn’t intend to due to poor packaging guidance, which caused 51% to feel disappointment and meant 39% wasted their money. There were more severe consequences as well, as 31% of respondents picked up something they couldn’t eat due to dietary requirements, and 23% something they were allergic to.

“Blind and partially sighted individuals face challenges with identifying and accessing on-pack information as a result of our visual impairment. Furthermore, packaging that relies heavily on visual cues, such as small or hard-to-read text, complex graphics, or colour-coded information, can create barriers for those with visual impairments,” Marc Powell, head of accessibility innovation at the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), told FoodNavigator.