Haleon and Barilla Expand Accessibility for Blind and Visually-impaired Consumers

seeing AI app

Both Haleon and Barilla have expanded accessibility functionalities of their existing apps designed to help people in need of visual assistance.  

Consumer health company Haleon will collaborate with Microsoft to expand functionality of the provider's Seeing AI App, while pasta brand Barilla is building on an earlier partnership with Danish mobile app Be My Eyes. Both ventures will leverage QR code scanning technology to make packaging information more accessible. 

Haleon Leans Into Seeing AI App’s Reach

Haleon, the business that has resulted from the de-merger of GSK Consumer Healthcare from GSK, has teamed with Microsoft to make use of its Seeing AI app. With the new enhancements, users across the U.S. and U.K., will be able to scan labels and hear an audio read-out for 1500+ products from brands like Sensodyne, Centrum, Emergen-C, ChapStick and Aquafresh. Users can listen for information such as product name, usage instructions, and ingredients. The goal is to extend accessibility, providing more detailed information for those who might struggle to read labels due to blindness, low vision or low literacy levels. 

The Seeing AI app was developed by Microsoft engineer Saqib Shaikh, who lost his sight at the age of seven. Commenting on the new features, Shaikh said “Seeing AI’s intelligent barcode scanner plays audio cues to help you find the barcode, and now the information displayed for Haleon products is coming straight from the manufacturer, providing richer information including usage instructions and ingredients. This can be invaluable for someone who cannot read the label, leading to greater independence.” 

be my eyes interior

Barilla Extends Be My Eyes Partnership 

Pasta company Barilla has extended its partnership with mobile app Be My Eyes, rolling out QR codes for those in need of visual assistance on 10 of their pasta products, including penne, spaghetti, farfalle and rotini. The two companies initially teamed up in 2021. Founded in 2012, Be My Eyes is an international community aimed at connecting people who are blind or have low vision with sighted volunteers or representatives. 

[See Also: QR Codes Show Promise In Reducing Food Waste

With this latest expansion, users will be able to scan the top of Barilla boxes for QR codes using their smartphone camera. Users in the U.S., can navigate to the Specialized Help menu in the Be My Eyes app and select Barilla in the ‘Food & Beverages’ category. Once linked up via the app, users will be able to ask the ‘Pasta Professionals’ questions, get clarification on ingredients, learn how to prepare the pasta, and more. 

“Ensuring our consumers have access to quality resources that allow them to better understand our products is incredibly important,” says Laura Birk, vice president of human resources, Barilla Americas. “Be My Eyes has proven to be a helpful and important resource for pasta shoppers, supporting Barilla's mission to make our products widely accessible to all. We are excited to be on the cutting edge of developments in our industry to increase accessibility for individuals with visual assistance needs.”

Making Strides on Inclusive Packaging 

Haleon and Barilla are not the only brands striving for more inclusive designs with their packaging. Earlier this year, P&D brand Dawn dish soap launched a new “no flip cap” bottle designed to more easily dispense soap with one hand. The company said the new packaging would be more user-friendly for those who have difficulties with traditional bottle designs. 

Another P&G company, Olay, also developed a more inclusive Easy Open Lid prototype for their skincare products. Designed to assist those with dexterity issues, joint pain, vision impairments and other disabilities, the lid features a winged cap, extra-grip raised lid, Braille text, and a high-contrast label. 

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