World Braille Day is celebrated every year on January 4 to raise awareness of the importance of Braille as a means of communication for blind and partially sighted people, and helps advocate for their equal rights and opportunities.
The day was recognized in 2019 by the United Nations and marked the birth anniversary of Louis Braille - a French educator who lost his eyesight at the age of 3 due to an accident with a sewing machine.
The Braille system is based on a series of raised dots that can be read with fingertips and that allows to have the tactile representation of alphabetic and numerical symbols using six dots to represent each letter and number, and even musical, mathematical, and scientific symbols.
Although for Individuals with visual impairments can be challenging to perform certain tasks like reading labels, instructions, and signs since most products and signage are created for the sighted community.
Some companies have embraced using large print, tactile markers and/or Braille on packaging to help their customers living with vision impairments and/or blindness.
One company that includes Braille on their packaging is L’Occitane, the French beauty company. In 1997, the founder of the company noticed a blind customer was feeling the bottles to try to differentiate the products and as a result started to include Braille on their packages. Now about 70% of their products include Braille.
Another brand that have incorporated the use of tactile markings is Procter and Gamble on their Herbal Essence Shampoo and Conditioner bottles, which are being redesigned to be more accessible to people with visual disabilities. When research indicated that only 10% of visually impaired and blind individuals know how to read Braille, the decision was made to use a tactile marking system.
The truth is that although more businesses are becoming aware of the need to incorporate Braille into their products and services, there is still much more left to do before we can say that Braille can be found everywhere, and each day there are companies that are taking the step forward to include accessible packages and finding ways of communication to individuals with specific needs or disabilities This is also a way that brands are raising public awareness about sight loss.