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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Not just a convenience, a necessity

Stephen Davis drives home the importance of accessible packaging

In January 2023, Scotland reached a significant milestone as a mandatory petition was launched, urging the incorporation of Braille on all food packaging. Surprisingly, this crucial consideration is still under review, with only Co-op among all UK supermarkets adopting Braille on its packaging.

The importance of this initiative cannot be overstated. With over two million visually impaired individuals in the UK and a staggering 250 million worldwide, this demographic continues to grow. Coupled with a concerning rise in food allergies, such as a fivefold surge in peanut allergies since the nineties, brands must ensure that essential information on packaging is accessible to those with sight loss.

Should product accessibility be a legal requirement for brands?

A recent study commissioned by Roland DG captured the insights from 500 UK adults who have visual impairment – revealing an urgent need for change. A remarkable 81 percent of respondents believe brands should legally be obligated to enhance product accessibility. Additionally, 37 percent feel that brands are not doing enough, and a striking 74 percent have experienced the frustration of choosing the wrong product due to inadequate packaging guidance.


This matter goes beyond mere inconvenience; it raises important health and safety considerations. Those who have visual impairment have reported picking up allergenic products, creating potentially life-threatening situations. With allergies deemed the most common chronic disease in Europe by the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EAACI), creating accessible packaging is not merely convenient but a critical necessity.

Innovation and opportunity

In January 2024, on World Braille Day, Roland DG initiated a campaign urging brands to promptly explore methods for enhancing product information accessibility. Beyond advocacy, we possess the technology to facilitate change. As pioneers in digital printing solutions, our technology allows for the direct incorporation of Braille and NaviLens codes onto packaging. Our UV printing capabilities enable the creation of high-quality accessible prototypes for businesses to see the potential for their packaging.

Acknowledging the challenges faced by businesses, especially in times of economic downturn, we recognise the importance of collaboration. While larger brands make strides, we invite smaller and start-up brands to integrate inclusivity into their packaging decisions from the outset – a collaborative effort to ensure no one is left behind.

Campaign ambassador Lucy Edwards encapsulates the initiative: “Simple switches like adding Braille and QR codes, such as NaviLens codes, on food and drinks packaging can make a huge difference in helping those with visual impairment live an independent, safe and healthy lifestyle.”

At Roland DG, we are committed to supporting positive change in packaging within the food and beverage industry. Our mission extends beyond advocating for accessible packaging; we dedicate significant resources to offer guidance and expertise in delivering innovative accessible printing capabilities that offer greater opportunities to brands and individuals. In collaboration with Lucy Edwards, our campaign ambassador, we extend this commitment to give five start-up and small-scale food and drink brands the opportunity to make their packaging inclusive from the start.

By embracing accessible packaging, brands not only cater to diverse consumer needs but also contribute to creating a world where everyone, regardless of visual ability, can confidently and safely engage in the shopping experience. Together, we can create meaningful change and a more inclusive future for all.

Stephen Davis is EMEA Marketing Director at Roland DG

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