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AFBAmerican Foundation®
for the Blind

Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss

Designing for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Hi, my name is Sophie and I am a Product Design and Manufacturing student at Nottingham Uiversity in the UK, my final year project is to design a product to improve the everyday life of those who are blind or partially sighted and I was hoping to get some advice as to what the most frustrating part of your days is, and what tasks you find the most difficult to accomplish?

Many thanks for your time and help

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Re:Designing for the Blind and Visually Impaired

You will note that I have written several messages about product design and blind folks. The more a mainstream product can be designed so that everybody can use it, the more likely it is that the product will be designed to be affordable and will be easy to get serviced. For example, voice chips are now inexpensive. If microwave ovens were designed to provide voice prompts and were designed so the spots on the panels had raised dots on them then anybody, blind or sighted, could use the same microwave oven. Design print on things big enough so folks can read it without their glasses and you will help lots of people, including legally blind ones. Design products intelligently and you will let people know they are included in society rather than only getting products "specially designed" for them. I want to be able to participate as easily as possible in the culture rather than having to pay extra money for some niche product. In short, find out what others such as Apple have done to make mainstream technology available to everybody. Learn what specialty products are already out there. Be inclusive rather than thinking of us as people who need special treatment, special high prices, difficult to obtain products. Design coffeemakers with buttons rather than a flat panel where no distinctions can be felt. Use reasonably priced voice chips to add functionality to products. Use large print on labels, panels and in direction booklets. Make directions available in electronic format so I can read a product's directions like sighted people can. These things require the kind of imagination which includes people rather than the kind which says we need special stuff. Mostly we do not. If we do, there is a lot of special stuff out there. Go through these message boards and you will find links to catalogs for specialty equipment for blind folks.

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