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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

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Scottish charities demand braille inclusion on food labelling

This news post is over 1 year old

A petition has been launched in the Scottish Parliament, backed by groups such as Sight Scotland. 

Charities in Scotland have launched a new campaign to demand that new requirements are placed on retailers to provide braille labelling on food products.

On World Braille Day, Sight Scotland, Oban and District Access Panel, and Disability Equality Scotland unveiled the plans, which are now being put to the Scottish Parliament as a petition. 

Currently, braille labelling is only required for medicines, meaning braille users are not able to identify the food products they wish to purchase and use. 

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.

A petition has been published today by the Citizen Participation and Public Petitions Committee at the Scottish Parliament and will now be sent to the Scottish Government for a response.

Craig Spalding, chief executive of Sight Scotland and Sight Scotland Veterans, said: “We are today, on World Braille Day, launching a campaign calling on the Scottish Government to introduce new legislation which would force all retailers to provide braille labelling on food products.

“It is 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. 

“We know that some businesses and retailers are already taking action to produce more information in braille. However, the vast majority of products are still not labelled in braille.”

Sight Scotland, Scotland’s largest visual impairment charity, organises National Braille Week in the second week of October every year. The charity also runs the Scottish Braille Press as part of its services supporting visually impaired people.

World Braille Day is annually celebrated on January 4, the birthday of Braille inventor, Louis Braille. The day recognises the contributions of Louis Braille in helping blind and visually impaired people to read and write.

Marie Harrower, a member of Oban and District Access Panel and a braille reader, added: “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 of effort. 

“I wonder what people with sight would think if labels were removed and they had to seek assistance or do some guessing. 

“I am absolutely delighted that the Oban and District Access panel, Sight Scotland and Disability Equality Scotland are vigorously supporting this access issue and campaign to have braille labels on products.”

Lyn Pornaro, chief executive officer at Disability Equality Scotland, said: “Disability Equality Scotland firmly supports the introduction of braille labelling across a wider variety of goods. Statutory requirements for braille labelling are long overdue and until they’re in place visually impaired people will remain at a significant disadvantage in society.”