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Washing machines: useful features for blind and partially sighted people

This information from the Research Institute for Disabled Consumers is unbiased. We hope it will help you choose the right option to meet your needs.
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Are you looking for a washing machine that's accessible and easy to use?
Here are the top seven ease-of-use features to ask for:

1. Tactile features

  • Has the machine got tactile markings on the control panel, like raised notches or arrows on the dial that line up with settings?
  • Does the dial click (slot) into place?
  • Does the detergent tray have tactile markings for compartments and fill lines?

2. Audio output

  • Are there audible tones on the buttons or keypad?
  • Is there any audio output to let you know when a wash cycle has finished?
  • Are there audible alerts to warn you about problems with the settings, cycle or machine?

3. Visual contrast

  • Are buttons or controls lit with LED lights?
  • Is the control interface a touch screen?
  • Is the control interface a digital-only display?
  • Is there good colour contrast between the markings and their background?

4. Simplicity

  • Is it easy to use the buttons and/or dial to select a programme or setting?
  • Are the settings and controls well spaced?
  • Are the controls manual, electronic, or a combination of both?
  • Does the machine have auto-dosing for the detergent? 

5. Verification

  • Is there any indication of programme status or time remaining? If so, how is this displayed?
  • What sort of confirmation do you receive when setting the machine? For instance, does the dial click into place? Do the buttons beep or light up?
  • How will you know when you've reached maximum fill level in the detergent tray? Is this indication tactile, audio, and/or visual?
  • Can you pause the cycle or change the programme mid-cycle if necessary? And if so, is this done manually or electronically?

6. Maintenance

  • Does the machine have an auto clean capability?
  • Is the detergent tray easy to remove and clean?
  • Does the machine alert you when there's a problem? If so, how is this warning given? For instance, beeps or flashing lights.
  • Is the 'fluff collector' accessible?

7. Smart features

  • Is the machine internet enabled? 
  • Do the smart features on the app provide any touch or audio feedback?
  • Can you access all the machine programmes through the app?

You can quickly see which washing machines have which features in our at-a-glance table.

Acknowledgements: Thank you to the participants of our focus groups and the support recieved from manufacturers of washing machines. Also thanks to Thomas Pocklington Trust for supporting and funding this research.

Last updated: May 2019


Choosing a washing machine | Feature list | Table of easy to use washing machines