This story is about privacy. Privacy does not only concern your data when you are online, when you are on your smartphone or on any other electronic devices. It’s also about protecting your intimacy when it comes to the most personal matters like pregnancy. And that, visually impaired women do not often get that luxury.

According to the RNIB, about two million women of childbearing age in the US, China, and Europe suffer from some vision deficiency. This means that, they often need assistance for the basic or the most important things in their life hence the inability to protect their privacy when they truly need.

The majority of pregnancy tests for instance, use digital screens or changing colors to announce the result, results that might be impossible for a blind woman to see. She will therefore always require someone else to tell them the result of what she is supposed to be the first to know – jeopardizing this way her privacy.

Interestingly, to address this issue, the UK’s Royal National Institute has developed a 3D printed prototype tactile pregnancy test.

 “From dealing with finances to accessing private medical information, privacy matters no matter who you are. But blind and partially sighted people are often denied their right to privacy due to inaccessible design and information. Taking a pregnancy test is a poignant example of this, as blind and partially sighted women often have no choice but to involve other people in reading their results. Meaning their private news is made public,” the organization’s website reads. “Accessible design matters, and to prove it’s possible, we’ve created a pregnancy test prototype that would allow women to be the first to know their own news.”

The prototype design — which is slightly larger than a traditional testing stick to allow for easier touch navigation — has been developed as part of the Design For Everyone campaign, one of the largest sight loss charities in the UK that aims to create a more inclusive world for blind and visually impaired people. Josh Wasserman, the independent designer behind the innovative idea, carried out research interviews with a selection of women who are either blind or partially sighted. He built the prototype on an Ultimaker 3D printer.

Technically speaking, the prototype enables women to feel the results with their fingers as it features nodules that become raised when the result is positive. Other useful features include the fact that it is large and bright. Most importantly, a bumpy control button on the bottom that’s raised helps avoid confusion with the tactile pad on top that provides the results.

It’s quite interesting to see how companies are addressing this accessibility issue faced by visually-impaired people. Remember Virtuoz, the 3D printed interactive touch-screen monitor that allows visually impaired people to move around?

Although there is still a long road to go, it should be noted that these innovative ideas that enables more accessibility often come with a price which is not that much affordable for all. In this specific case, the tactile pregnancy test would be a bit more expensive than the standard ones, but RNIB has publicly posted the CAD design so that those who can produce it themselves can easily do so.

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