A short, interesting article piqued my interest in Packaging World recently. The article: “Braille ’signed’ on sleeved bottles” simply discloses how Italian milk producer Milk Depot, based in Brescia, Italy, has added expiration dates on its packaging in Braille. While this may not seem like much to some, the addition of Braille for the visually impaired, is a big deal. It also represents a real innovation in consumer product packaging.
According to Milk Depot CEO Andrea Barolozzi, this new initiative “was consistent with the company’s goal to be socially responsible as well as profitable.” All I can say is “Bravo” to Milk Depot and the leadership and compassion demonstrated by Barolozzi. Let’s hope other consumer product companies take a cue from Milk Depot.
While the article delves into the various technologies that enable packagers to incorporate Braille hot-melt adhesive dots to heat shrink labels, which is neither here nor there for most marketers, we can glean some important information in another regard.
Apparently, the adoption of Braille into packaging comes from a European Union directive since 2005. The EU requires all pharmaceutical company selling products in Europe to use Braille to communicate the name of the medicinal product, “the proper strength” which must apply to dosage, and whether the product can be consumed by babies, children or adults only.
U.S. regulations simply don’t require Braille on pharmaceutical packaging yet. But for any U.S. pharmaceutical company that wishes to do business in Europe, they must “develop and implement a Braille solution if they are to retain access to the large European marketplace”.
According to the American Foundation for the Blind, there are 10 million blind or visually impaired people in the U.S. Significantly, the organization states that “Every seven minutes, someone in America will become blind or visually impaired.” And, according to the World Health Organization,
there are an estimated 45 million blind people and 135 million visually impaired people worldwide.
These numbers may seem trivial relative to world-wide population, but with a quickly aging population in Europe, the U.S., Japan and many other countries around the world, one suspects that these numbers are going to mushroom.
* What do you think of the idea of adding Braille to consumer packaging?
* Do you think it a good idea to incorporate more or less information in Braille? For example: do you think Braille ought to be used for more than product expiration dates?
* Would you be willing to perhaps pay a bit more for products that may cost slightly more to package due to the addition of Braille?
I’d love to hear from you.