The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) have today launched a new pop-up “shop” in London that hopes to highlight the difficulties blind and partially sighted people face when attempting to navigate inaccessible packaging on products.

Part of the charity’s Design for Everyone campaign, WhatsIn Store is a mock corner shop is full of hidden cameras that will capture shoppers’ reactions to products with blank or intentionally vague packaging.

RNIB CEO Matt Stringer said: “Everyone has the right to know what they’re buying yet packaging information is so often inaccessible for blind and partially sighted people.

“Our research shows that almost three-quarters of people feel that accessing product information on food packaging is very important to them. Yet nine in ten said that packaging is difficult or impossible to read.

“People told us they often rely on their memory for locating products or felt forced to ask for help. They shouldn’t have to rely on friends, family or shopworkers to buy food. It’s a matter of choice and of independence.

“RNIB is campaigning for products and services to be reimagined with accessibility in mind, because when products are designed for anyone, the result is better for everyone.”

Inaccessible packaging is also a problem for people who live with food intolerances, or illnesses that can make them sensitive to specific ingredients. For example, people who live with Coeliac disease need to know if a product contains gluten.

Laura’s 13-year-old daughter Jorja is visually impaired and lives with Coeliac. She said: “Jorja has this condition for life, so she must have a strictly gluten-free diet. She’s now at the age where we’re trying to give her some autonomy, getting those life skills to go to a shop and buy things. We either research what she thinks she might want to buy ahead of time, or I let her choose things and I check the packaging later.

“We should all be able to make an autonomous choice with all the available information. Nobody should be made more vulnerable through the lack of accessibility.”

RNIB has recently worked with Kelloggs to create more accessible packaging on their breakfast cereals, and after a successful trial, the company announced that it would add NaviLens technology to its cereal boxes, which will allow customers using the NaviLenz app to easily access information about the contents of the box via their smartphone.

For more information about the Design for Everyone campaign, visit the RNIB website.

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