Campaigners call for braille labels on food products in Scotland

Sight loss campaigners say the move would boost visually impaired people's independence.

Charities are demanding that retailers be required to provide braille labelling on food products.

Braille labelling is currently only needed for medicines, meaning users are not able to identify food products they wish to buy and use.

The charities Sight Scotland, Oban and District Access Panel, and Disability Equality Scotland want retailers to be forced to add the name of the product and use-by dates to packaging.

A petition has been published by a parliament committee and will now be sent to the Scottish Government for a response.

Bilal Iqbal, 27, was registered as blind at birth. As most retailers do not print labels on food products in braille, he requires assistance when he goes to the shops.

Bilal said food shopping can be a 'challenge'.

He said: “It can be quite a challenge. It would be useful to have the braille available on food products because it means that, if nobody was available, I would know what I’m buying.”

It’s estimated that there are around 180,000 people living with sight loss in Scotland, and that figure is set to rise to 200,000 in 2023.

Sight Scotland CEO Craig Spalding said: “The biggest fears that people express to us is loss of independence, of not being able to do either what they used to be able to do if their sight loss in progressive, or to join in everyday activities that people with full vision are able to do.

“So by this simple act of providing an additional avenue for independence, we believe that will have a huge positive impact on people’s mental health.

“A lot of people do know someone or know of someone who has a vision impairment who is reliant on braille. It’s important to stop and think about the impact that may have on people.

“I’m sure anyone who stops and reflects for long enough will realise that this simple change of putting braille labelling on food products will grant someone their independence.

“The current petition that we have is open until the end of January. We are really encouraging anyone and everyone to get on to the Scottish Parliament website and put their name behind this important initiative.”

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