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Website Allows Blind to 'Read' Package Labels

August 29, 2012
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Horizons for the Blind, a non-profit organization which serves the blind and visually impaired community, announces the availability of “directionsforme" (www.directionsforme.org), a website which provides access to comprehensive information on more than 400,000 consumer packaged goods (CPG) products.

Powered by the Gladson database, the industry’s most comprehensive and up-to-date source of detailed information on food, health & beauty care and general merchandise items, Directions helps blind and visually-impaired individuals read package labels and make health-conscious shopping decisions for themselves and their families.

Traditionally, a consumer with a visual impairment will rely on store associates, a spouse, family member or a passerby to read product labels out loud or describe the brands which are available on the shelf. Now, with the directionsforme website, visually-impaired individuals can research products before setting foot in a store and then confidently select and prepare products in their homes.

The site provides access to preparation directions, ingredients, nutritional facts, allergy warnings and other label details via text-to-speech readers, magnifiers, braille output devices and web-enabled cell phones.

The American Foundation for the Blind reports that 21.5 million Americans are blind or have difficulty seeing even with glasses and that number is growing steadily as an increasing number of seniors are encountering vision problems. At the same time, manufacturers are required to include more and more information on their packaging, making the packages more crowded and more difficult to read.

“Being an educated shopper is so important, but first, you have to know what products even exist,” says Camille Caffarelli, founder and executive director of Horizons for the Blind. “Directions has made shopping and meal preparation easier and safer for thousands of individuals and the Gladson database has been invaluable in that effort.”

“The work that Camille and her team have done with directionsformeis amazing,” says Paul Waldron, Gladson executive vice president. “Resources for visually impaired consumers are very limited because most other websites are not designed to be accessible, but Directions is a well-designed solution for this community.”

 Among the items on Horizons for the Blind’s near-term agenda are a directionsforme mobile app and the formation of a CPG Advisory Board.  “The visually-impaired community is a very brand-loyal group and we look forward to building stronger ties with consumer products manufacturers and retailers,” Caffarelli notes. 

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