Scottish charities call for braille labelling on food products

The campaign was launched on World Braille Day, and seeks new requirements to be placed on retailers when labelling food products

Pixabay/Igor Ovsyannykov

A number of sight loss charities in Scotland have partnered for a campaign calling for new requirements to be placed on retailers to provide braille labelling on food products.

The campaign was launched on World Braille Day (4 January) by Sight Scotland, Oban and District Access Panel, and Disability Equality Scotland.

A petition has also been published by the Citizen Participation and Public Petitions Committee at the Scottish Parliament.

Currently, braille labelling is only required for medicines. The charities are calling for a statutory duty to be placed on businesses and retailers to provide braille labels on food products detailing the name of the item and the use by/sell by dates.

Craig Spalding, chief executive of Sight Scotland and Sight Scotland Veterans, explained: “It’s simply unfair that braille users cannot currently identify the food products they want to buy and use. People living with sight loss have the same rights as anyone else and ensuring information is available in braille is vital for the inclusion of visually impaired people in our society.”

While some businesses and retailers have taken steps to provide more information in braille, Spalding said: “the vast majority of products are still not labelled in braille.”

Sight Scotland is Scotland’s largest visual impairment charity and organises National Braille Week, as well as running the Scottish Braille Press.

Marie Harrower, a member of Oban and District Access Panel, and a braille reader, shared: “I feel passionate that blind and partially sighted people should be able to identify products, especially food products, in order to store away shopping and retrieve products quickly, easily and with the minimum effort. I wonder what people with sight would think if labels were removed and they had to seek assistance or do some guessing.”

The Braille Labelling campaign can be followed on social media through @BrailleLabels and #jointhedots.

World Braille Day, held annually on 4 January, recognises the contributions of the inventor of Braille, Louis Braille.