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The UK’s Royal National Institute of Blind People has helped create an accessible pregnancy test for visually impaired women

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A woman holding the pregnancy test prototype.

Visually impaired women cannot use traditional pregnancy tests, so British charity the RNIB teamed up with marketing network The&Partnership to create an accessible one. 
Traditional tests rely on visual cues, meaning visually impaired women need help to use them – but the new test delivers results using a raised button. 
The purpose of the test is to grant women everywere the right to privacy and dignity, say the two companies behind it.
The product will not go beyond the prototype stage, but its creators hope the research will inspire other companies to focus on accessible design.
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Visually impaired women can’t use pregnancy tests without assistance, so British designers have created a pioneering prototype, which allows such women to be the first to learn their results.

Instead of the usual striped lines or electronic screen, the prototype test produces a large raised button to indicate a positive result. This allows women to feel their results with their fingers.

RNIB

The prototype also features bright colors to differentiate between the top and bottom of the test, a 50% larger absorbent pad, and a resistant grip on the reverse for ease.

Traditional pregnancy tests rely on visual cues

Currently, all pregnancy tests available in the market provide visual results. Women with visual impairments must ask for help to read their tests, and “are therefore never the first to know what is happening to their own bodies,” according to the companies behind the prototype, The&Partnership and UK charity the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB).

This is despite more than 5 million pregnancy tests being sold in the UK every year, making them one of the most-used pieces of home medical equipment, according to the RNIB.

Danielle, a blind woman who was involved in the development of the prototype, said: “I’ve taken a pregnancy test in the past and it’s been negative, and the person who has been reading it has said ‘Oh it’s probably just as well though, isn’t it?'”

In the past, she has also resorted to asking her neighbor for help to read test results, because her then-partner also had a visual impairment.

RNIB
Danielle and her daughter. Danielle has had to ask for assistance to read her pregnancy test results.

Not being able to read their results in private isn’t the only problem visually impaired women face when using traditional pregnancy tests.

According to the RNIB, the packaging is difficult to open and the small size of the absorbent tip makes it difficult for women to tell whether they have sufficient urine on it.

The predominantly white designs of the tests also make it difficult for women to tell which way round the test should be held and where the results will appear. Visually impaired people also struggle with the small size of the font on the instructions and the electronic screen, the  added.

Accessible design is “better for everyone”

Working alongside creative agency The&Partnership and product designer Josh Wasserman, the RNIB stepped in to fix this problem.

The team spent two years designing an accessible pregnancy test to grant women everywhere “the right to privacy and dignity.”

The RNIB has worked previously with Procter & Gamble and pregnancy test manufacturer Clearblue to produce an app for visually-impaired women. Users show their test to a volunteer on a video call, who reads the result to them.

But this new project is the UK’s first fully-accessible pregnancy test prototype, allowing women with sight loss to know their results privately rather than having to find out through others, The&Partnership told Business Insider.

RNIB
A woman holding the pregnancy test prototype. It features nodules that raise if the result is positive.

Though the RNIB isn’t producing the test beyond the prototype, the team has released its research and design exploration for free on DesignForEveryone, in the hope that other designers will be inspired to focus on accessibility.

Companies that embrace inclusive design outperform their competitors, research by Accenture shows, because their intuitive and easy-to-use designs make products better for everyone. Past examples of accessible technology that have since become mainstream include the typewriter that inspired modern keyboards and voice-controlled home devices, The&Partnership said.

“For many women who are blind or partially sighted … their result becomes public, stripping them of their privacy and opening them up to comment and judgement from others,” it added. “Through creating the prototype, the team hopes to raise awareness that this, like so many other things, doesn’t need to be the case.”

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