February is always a special month at the Autosomal Dominant Optic Atrophy Association (ADOAA). Not only is February Low Vision Awareness month, the last day of the month also marks Rare Disease Day. ADOA is a rare disease that causes low vision, and even sometimes complete vision loss, beginning in childhood.
This Rare Disease Day, we’re celebrating inclusivity. Companies across the world have been working for decades to make their products more accessible for people with low vision and blindness. In 2019, Vogue Business published a piece investigating the cost of inclusivity in the beauty industry. Back in the 1990s, L’Occitane founder Olivier Baussan became one of the first beauty suppliers to incorporate braille on his products’ packaging. More recently, P&G hired a blind inclusivity designer name Sam Latif who has been implementing accessibility strategies into their design projects since 2018. For example, P&G now creates bottles with tactile markers that even blind people who don’t read Braille can use.
The beauty industry isn’t alone in these endeavors. In 2018, Kellogg’s partnered with the National Federation of the Blind to include Braille stickers and recordable audio boxes with their Rice Krispie Treats. Whereas the original Rice Krispie Treats wrapper had space for family and friends to write notes, these inclusive options allowed children with low vision to be able to receive messages from the parents or caregivers packing their lunches too.
Beyond what we can physically touch, inclusivity in this growing digital age is also becoming a critical component in the tech community. The heads of companies like Apple, Google, and Microsoft are prioritizing their accessibility and inclusivity departments to ensure their products are the leading the way in helping low vision and blind people navigate the digital and physical world. This includes expanding access to audio options for documents and books, creating apps to help those with vision impairment navigate new places, and ensuring mobile phones are completely accessible.
This Rare Disease Day, we want to celebrate all of the companies that are doing their part to help make the world a better place for everyone. Is there an example of a great product or app that you use? Tell us about it so we can share it with our entire community! Reach out to us by filling out the Contact Us form at the bottom of our website. Also be sure to also follow us on Facebook for tips and frequent updates.