JULY NEWSLETTER No. 338
New tool to improve delivery of local eye health services launched:
A new eye health audit tool with the aim of improving the delivery of local eye health services has been launched by the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and Roche The Eye Level tool is free, and James Lorigan, eye care commissioning lead for the Pathway Innovation Programme at NHS England, is urging commissioners to make use of it.
How Estée Lauder builds technology to foster inclusivity
Estée Lauder, which hosts brands like Clinique, MAC and SmashBox, launched an AI-powered voice-enabled makeup assistant mobile app in January aimed at supporting those with low vision or those who are blind. The free mobile app, developed using machine learning, identifies makeup applied on a user’s face and assesses the uniformity and boundaries of application and coverage. Users receive feedback and tips, audibly identifying areas of improvement.
How to make celebrations accessible for all the family
All children and young people with vision impairment should be able to participate in any cultural and religious celebrations they want to join including Hanukkah, Chinese New Year, Ramadan, the Coronation. Special guides suggest how to make these celebrations accessible and fun for the whole family.
Blindness has put me in lots of embarrassing spots – this app saved me
Walking into doors, returning to the wrong table in a restaurant, or touching the wrong body part while attempting to find the shoulder of a friend who has offered to carry the drinks and guide you through the bar, are among the awkward moments that have happened to visually impaired people. And there’s one app in particular that aids me in navigating some of the more common inconveniences that come alongside sight loss – Seeing AI. Seeing AI is a free app, designed by Microsoft and available to Apple and Android users, that has provided ways to not just manage, but live with a degree of independence.
Available through the App Store on your phone or tablet, Seeing AI can be downloaded to your home screen, where existing accessibility tools on your device can help you to navigate to the application.
You simply point the camera on your device, and let the verbal instructions help you to find your target – you can scan long text that can be saved and enlarged or read aloud, read a short text, and scan barcodes, as well as describe scenery and people, or identify currency.
Why beauty for the visually impaired needs to go beyond Braille
Globally, 2.2 billion people have vision impairment. That’s a huge segment of the population who can’t simply walk into a store and pick a product off the shelf. Influencer Molly Burke—who at age four was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, which leads to vision loss and potentially complete blindness in some—currently has 1.92 million subscribers on YouTube. In her video “Beauty Products Made for Blind People?!,” she teases apart the tension points of inclusive packaging. Burke points out that Bioderma has braille on its packaging but not on the products themselves. In 1997, L’Occitane pioneered the wider use of braille language on beauty products, using it on 70% of its packaging (both boxes and bottles). Humanrace has braille on its packaging and product components (although the braille on the latter only includes the brand and not product name), and Cleanlogic had the easiest-to-read braille on its packaging. Herbal Essences created sensory enhanced packaging with stripes denoting shampoo and circles denoting conditioner, although Burke notes the symbols could be on the top of the cap instead of the bottom of the bottle for more accessible reading. Praising the skincare brand Victorialand’s CyR.U.S. Tags System—which uses tactical symbols and raised QR codes for product descriptions and offers waterproof adhesive tags that can be applied to any product—the influencer adds, “If an indie brand can do it right, every brand can do it right.” “We all should be working towards universal design,” Burke states, prioritizing the term “universal” over “accessible” because the former includes all instead of a smaller segment of the population.
The CyR.U.S. Tags system has tactile symbols representing different product categories, and embossed QR codes, which, when scanned, play an audio message to deliver the information on the carton.
Foundation awards £10 million for new eye health centre
The Garfield Weston Foundation has awarded £10 million to Moorfields Eye Charity for a new integrated centre for advancing eye health.
The centre, called Oriel, will be the new home for Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, and is set to open in 2027.
The £10 million grant will help to further eye research and treatment, and will support bringing clinicians and researchers from Moorfields Eye Hospital and the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology together under one roof for closer collaborative working.
New NHS guidance established to improve eye care accessibility in England
A new initiative from the National Health Service is intended to make eye care more accessible to patients in England. NHS leaders announced their efforts late last month.1 The measures aim to reduce wait times for care, a goal that government officials labelled as a “top priority.”