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Accessible packaging for the visually impaired

In an industry designed to ‘catch the eye’ and be visually disruptive, adding packaging elements that are designed to be touched will cater to a new audience and expand marketability. Tactile packaging and labels that include haptic elements, such as braille and textured finishes, will make brands more accessible and help them reach millions of visually impaired consumers the world over.

According to the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB), approximately 1.1 billion people worldwide live with some degree of vision loss or blindness. This means millions of people will experience products through touch, not through sight.

Braille may seem like the solution here, being the internationally recognised reading and writing system for the blind. Unfortunately, estimates suggest that only one in ten blind people can read Braille. So, while it is definitely one way to make packaging more accessible, 90% of the blind population is still not being included.

Haptics is the branch of psychology that investigates sensory data and information derived from the sense of touch. Haptics directly triggers emotions and senses and is used by brands to impact the purchasing decision of consumers. It can also be used to communicate important information about products to the visually impaired, such as which of two identically shaped bottles is shower gel and which is body lotion, for example.

Brands can use embossing, debossing, and other forming processes to create raised standard symbols on their packaging. Similarly, branding elements can be raised or given a unique texture or finish so that consumers can feel the company name and specific markers to understand the product better. QR codes can also be raised and so they can be scanned with a smartphone and link to audio technologies that readout important information.

Tactile and textured packaging elements are engaging for any shopper but will specifically alert someone who is visually impaired as to inherent product differences. They serve the dual purpose of embracing social responsibility for aiding visually impaired consumers as well as expanding your market space.

The topics of inclusivity and accessibility are prominent in modern markets as shown by research conducted by Accenture in 2018, which revealed that 51% of millennials are more likely to shop at a retailer that demonstrates awareness of current social issues in inclusion.

“We strongly feel that brands should embrace the chance to extend the accessibility of their brands and be inclusive of as much of the market as possible.” – John Mertsch, FIL MD

It’s important these haptic features don’t detract from your broader audience by impairing the visual appeal of your product but rather grow your appeal overall, so packaging needs to overcome the challenges of design and application. Speak to our team about how we can improve the accessibility of your brand by including tactile elements that speak to the visually impaired.