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The case for inclusive design

Jill's picture
By: Jill

As a totally blind person (and a Rica Trustee), I am not surprised at the results of our research on the lack of accessible central heating controls that can be used by blind and partially sighted people.

There are many white goods, such as dishwashers, washing machines, cookers and toasters that have visual displays with very little tactile information or audible information. Most controls cannot be adapted with Braille, and accessible instruction manuals are not readily available when purchasing a product.

The Rica home appliance checklists can help partially sighted people and those with other disabilities in a general way. However, detailed ease-of-use tests of home appliances for older or disabled people are much needed. We want to find the best buys just like everyone else.

How does this affect me personally?

Well, a couple of years ago I had to wait a whole year for my cooker panel to be given Braille markings. No sighted person would put up with purchasing items that had control panels that they were unable to read immediately.

I recently bought a new toaster but there were no models available with tactile panel information that I could use as a blind person.

People talk about inclusive design but many of us are still left out. Those manufacturers that build inclusive design at every development stage and ensure that this is promoted in their marketing will win more market share as products increasingly need to be designed for an ageing population, which of course, includes many who are blind or partially sighted.

Since its formation, Rica has been a champion for inclusive design. Longer life expectancies and a reduced birth rate are resulting in an increased proportion of older people within the adult population. The main emerging future markets from now on will consist of older people, particularly the 75+ age group. So the business case for using inclusive design at all stages of product/service design is now urgent and compelling.

More details of the business case for inclusive design can be found on the inclusive design toolkit website.

See also: Our research gives British Gas’ Hive Active Heating 2 control top marks | Rica's home and technology consumer guides| Good design benefits everyone