World Sight Day, on October 10, serves to remind us of the 500,000 Canadians confronting the challenges associated with low or no vision. And while we may have a basic understanding of what those struggles look like, it’s the ordinary tasks, such as selecting the right product in the shower, that really add up over the course of a day.
In 2018, hair-care brand Herbal Essences addressed just that, launching the first-ever mass-produced bottle designed to be discernible for the vision impaired. The goal was clear: By making the labels distinguishable by touch—with shampoo bottles featuring four vertical line markings and conditioners having two rows of dots—the brand could erase in-shower bottle confusion for those who haven’t had the opportunity to learn Braille. What’s more, this tactile feature has proven advantageous for other in-need individuals, like seniors and non-native English speakers; even having caught the attention of vision impaired Canadian YouTuber Molly Burke, who has since become a Herbal Essences Brand Partner.
This movement towards greater accessibility at Herbal Essences was sparked by Sam Latif, P&G’s Special Consultant for Inclusive Design, who is blind herself. The small packaging change, which entirely altered the manufacturing line, has offered real benefits for those who continually face obstacles when performing routine tasks. “I used to put an elastic band around shampoo to remind myself,” says Latif of her strategy before the Herbal Essences redesign. “It’s just a little thing, but there are hundreds of little things that we have to spend time looking for every day.”
Simple solutions like these are just that—simple—but today, only 4 percent of companies are creating products for people with disabilities. It’s just another reason why, in 2019, Herbal Essences is furthering its support of those who are vision impaired with more ways to shop, shower and style their hair. Through the brand’s partnership with the Be My Eyes app, users can take the guesswork out of choosing the right product for them by connecting with the Herbal Essences team via video call right from the hair-care aisle. The brand also offers easy ordering and re-ordering via Alexa. Both capabilities are currently available in the U.S. and may be coming to Canada in the near future.
It’s these kinds of shifts that Molly Burke knows are meaningful. “These initiatives continue to bring a great impact to the vision impaired community,” she says. “We all find our own little tricks to differentiate between products, but it would be so much easier if every brand would take the step that Herbal Essences has. It’s incredibly exciting and I can’t wait to see what’s next and how this inspires others to think about accessibility.”
To experience Herbal Essences’ touch-worthy, accessible line of products, purchase them at Walmart, in-store or online.
Lead photo by Instagram.com/@lauralawsonvisconti