Over the past few weeks I have become interested in advancing my baking and cookery skills. This introduces a number of obstacles as a blind individual, mainly there are a lot of tasks that have the potential to hurt you!
I have begun to break down these tasks and will be covering them in a series of posts. For today though I would like to focus on weighing.
This is a surprisingly difficult task, from measuring out liquids to weighing items for baking and cooking. There are a few speak kitchen scales out there, but as ever with products for the visually impaired they are grossly over priced for their limited and often lacklustre feature set.
So I was incredibly excited when I found the Drop scales, especially with their slogan “Now anyone can bake”. I certainly fit into the anyone category, so I popped down to the local Apple Store and made a purchase with the idea to test their accessibility. The Drop scale connects over bluetooth to an iPad and displays the weight on screen, it also has a large array of features that walk you through baking and cooking specific items as well as such features as auto scaling the weights of recipes.
I thought this could be the perfect item for me, a feature rich set of scales that would display the weight of an item on screen. VoiceOver could read the weight to me and these scales would solve a large kitchen problem.
Upon testing the app VoiceOver works surprisingly well, a large number of the features can be read aloud and buttons are labelled well. The problem came when I tested the scales core feature, weighing. The current weight is not a VoiceOver selectable item, therefore, the weight cannot be read aloud.
It is worth highlighting that if you have low vision these scales will work well, the current weight is displayed in a white font on a black background. It is very high contrast and is far superior to the small screens that usually accompany kitchen scales.
Not deterred by the scales current lack of VoiceOver support I emailed Drop putting in a request for the current weight to be selectable by VoiceOver. I unfortunately received a boiler plate response that said it was something they may investigate in the future and thanking me for my patience.
This disappointed me more than the scales not working for me. The companies lack of insight into an opportunity. The Drop scales are on price parity with other accessible scales, but are far more feature rich. Therefore, if they were accessible, they could easily take a large chunk out of that market.
There is also the additional business case of the positive marketing they would receive from making this change. It would certainly bring them attention from the VI media as well as the mainstream media.
The business case for this change appears to make sense and that is what is disappointing. As ever making something accessible is way down on the priority list, mainly because this company fails to see the positive impact making something accessible could make.
It would make a huge impact on individuals like myself where it would solve a problem, but it would make an impact on their bottom line. The development cost to make this change would easily be outweighed by the new market these scales would be opened too and the press coverage. Companies need to stop seeing making a product or service accessible as low priority and understand the positive business case for making the change.
Then perhaps the slogan “Now anyone can bake” would hold true.