Packaging Design for the visually impaired

In 2018, the brand (P&G) Herbal Essence took initiative to become the first mass haircare company in America to incorporate tactile design in their shampoo and conditioner to help people who are visually impaired.

Most shampoos and conditioners on the market are designed in bottles that are identical to each other, besides maybe color. For able seeing people, they can easily read the shampoo bottle and the product colors are differentiated by opaque and translucent. Many of these bottles tend to be generic.

Herbal Essence changes the game by including 4 raised stripes for shampoo and 8 raised dots for conditioner at the bottom of their bottles. It’s even convenient for people who can’t read. The ‘S’ in stripes correlates to shampoo and the ‘C’ in circles stands for conditioner. It’s a simplified version inspired by braille which allows for easy reading when the hands may be soapy and wet.

This small addition of this design feature solves the issue for people who have low to no vision. Instead of trying to fix the person, it solves the problem. This technology was pioneered by Sumaira “Sam” Latif, P&G’s Accessibility Leader, who is also blind. Since the design is simple and small it doesn’t exclude anybody but does the exact opposite.

The only real flaw in this design is that it’s located at the bottom and back of the bottles. This forces the users who need it most to pick up the bottle each time in order to read it. Instead, it would be more convenient if the tactile markings were either moved on the top of the lid or top of the bottle.

In the market of today, I feel like not many products are designed with disability access in mind. This unnerving since according to. “P&G reports that there are 253 million people around the world who are vision impaired, yet only 4 percent of businesses are actively creating products with disabled people in mind. According to the UK disability organization Purple Tuesday, nearly one in five people in the UK have a disability or impairment and over half of households have a connection to someone with a disability.” Designing with inclusivity in mind allows companies to access even more consumers.

Disabled people have to face tons of little challenges everyday. A little change can create a huge difference in that person’s life. It’s our responsibility as designers to speak for those voices that are often unheard.

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