RNIB Creates Accessible Pregnancy Test Prototype to Raise Awareness of Accessible Design

RNIB Creates Accessible Pregnancy Test Prototype to Raise Awareness of Accessible Design

The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) has unveiled the first accessible pregnancy test prototype that allows women with sight loss to know their results privately for the first time. The groundbreaking test allows the user to feel their results, producing raised nodules to indicate a positive result.

In 2020 there is still no fully accessible pregnancy test, meaning that blind and partially sighted women must ask for help to read their tests, and are therefore never the first to know what is happening to their own bodies. Everyone deserves the right to privacy and the prototype is an emotive and poignant example of the wider implications of inaccessible design. The campaign aims to raise awareness in the design community and call on businesses everywhere to put accessibility first when designing their products and services.

To support this change RNIB has launched a 'Design For Everyone' category at their annual See Differently Awards, celebrating the businesses and designers that put accessibility first, and has released the CAD data and research involved in creating the revolutionary prototype.

"We wanted to design and create a proof of concept prototype to show that it can be done," commented Eleanor Southwood, Chairman of RNIB. "Accessible design isn't something that's far off in the future; it's here and now, and we wanted budding designers to be able to think accessibly in future by sharing our work."

A universally recognizable and symbolic piece of design that has barely changed in over 40 years, the pregnancy test is an intimate and emotive symbol of the ways in which designing accessibly can ensure everyone has the same right to privacy and dignity. Currently, blind and partially sighted women are often denied this right, relying on help to interpret their results when taking a pregnancy test. This means they are not the first to know their result, which can often expose them to comment and judgment.

The prototype was researched, developed, created and stress tested with the blind and partially sighted community by product designer Josh Wasserman. "It was interesting to think differently about how we can utilise the different senses maybe we don't think about as much," Wasserman stated.

The solution is a test that lets you feel your result, using a large tactile results area with raised bumps to indicate a pregnancy. The control is also tactile and has been moved to the underside for extra clarity. It's built around the same technology as existing digital tests and works in the same way, but crucially uses a mechanical output with a linear actuator instead of a digital screen.

The spectrum of sight loss had to be taken into account, meaning a redesign of not just of the result output, but of each element of the user experience. The top is brightly colored and in high contrast, making it easier to see for those with partial vision. The shape is easier to navigate by touch using different textured surfaces, ergonomic design and a 50% larger absorbent tip.

Photos: Courtesy of RNIB