by Daniel Parker, RDPFS Intern
World Sight Day 2022 marked the unveiling of a major new corporate initiative for increasing the accessibility of pharmaceuticals. The partnership between Haleon, a leading health care company, and Microsoft’s Seeing AI is expected to make over 1500 of the company’s products accessible to people who are blind across the U.S. and the U.K. Seeing AI is a free app principally used for scanning printed text and having it read aloud or saved on a phone, or for scanning a product’s barcode to find out what it is and read labels. The app can also detect light by using tones, distinguish colors, and identify currency. Through this new Always Read the Label campaign, Haleon is now ensuring that, on scanning the barcode with Seeing AI, users will get detailed information from the manufacturer including the name of the product, ingredients, and directions for use. Microsoft Engineering Manager Saqib Shaikh stated: “‘[The collaboration with Haleon] is really important and exciting, because Seeing AI has always been able to recognize products, but the challenge has been having access to data that is really rich, and that comes from the manufacturer. Now you can just scan the barcode and hear exactly what was written on the package…The information is really accurate, and you’re getting it all in one place.’” Haleon Global Chief Marketing Officer Tamara Rogers added: “‘We have had great feedback from people who are blind and have low vision. They really value the increased independence that comes from being empowered to access our product information themselves. There’s a classic health industry saying which is, ‘Always read the label, always read the instructions,’ and for some, that just isn’t possible. This initiative will make Haleon products more accessible to people who are blind or have low vision.’” Microsoft hopes additional companies will follow suit and enable Seeing AI to make more labels and important information accessible through barcodes. You can find out more details in an article from TIMES Series entitled Game-changing new collaboration set to enhance health product accessibility for the blind and partially sighted and one from Microsoft: Haleon harness Microsoft’s Seeing AI technology to make health product information more accessible for people who are blind or have low vision.