New Mobile App Helps Visually-Impaired Consumers Shop
When Camille Caffarelli founded her nonprofit Horizons for the Blind in 1977, she did so, in her words, because she was “trying to figure out a way of making a difference with people.”
Thirty-five years later, Horizons for the Blind is aiming to revolutionize the way visually impaired shoppers make decisions about what they’re about to buy.
Through a partnership with consumer packaged goods (CPG) provider Gladson, Horizons for the Blind will soon launch a mobile app allowing consumers to scan the bar codes of products while shopping in stores. The app will then connect with the DirectionsForMe website, which provides the user with information in a variety of formats.
The DirectionsForMe app will work on both Android and iOS processors, and can present product information to users in three different ways: through magnifying text font on a smartphone screen, through an automated voice reading or through a portable braille reader.
Caffarelli, who was herself born blind, says the app will prove to be enormously helpful to the visually and hearing impaired, as well as to seniors who have a difficult time reading the bevy of information packaged in small lettering on many items.
“DirectionsForMe provides a platform of independence … it allows you to put in a product name, and then you get all the directions, the warnings, the ingredients and anything else that would be on the package,” says Caffarelli. “That’s pretty exciting for those of us who have never had that.”
While the DirectionsForMe app will not launch with payments functionality, Caffarelli says that is something that could be added in the future.
“We want to start developing partnerships with CPG companies so that they can help in the form of advertising, and reach out to this segment of the population through our website and through the scanning apps,” Caffarelli said.
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