RNIB and Miele launch washing machine designed for people with sight loss

Miele washing machine with the soap drawer open.

RNIB is proud to have worked closely with domestic appliances specialist Miele to help develop a washing machine specially designed for people with sight loss. 

Miele’s GuideLine washing machine combines the quality, performance and economy the brand is known for with intuitive controls designed specifically for blind or partially sighted people. Featuring an innovative tactile control panel design and audible programme signals, the GuideLine washing machine is simple and easy to operate. Its performance is not compromised by the new features, explains Robin Spinks, senior innovation manager at RNIB.

Exclusive features

The machine features a unique, tactile control panel that enables you to easily select the right programme and settings. It’s easy and intuitive to operate using a rotary control and touch panel that has sound built-in and raised dots to help you quickly select from 12 washing programmes. 

The GuideLine’s large 8kg capacity drum is big enough for family use and for total peace-of-mind, a five-year parts and labour warranty is included. 

Each unit also comes with a USB stick containing an audio user manual in DAISY format for maximum usability.

Robin Spinks, senior innovation manager at RNIB, said: “Our innovation team works internationally with consumer brands to facilitate the development of inclusive products and we applaud Miele for recognizing the needs of our community. We’re very excited about the potential of this product and the changes it might bring to the industry going forward.”

Four helpful wash day ideas

There are lots of different products and apps available that can reduce the chance of wash day stress or mishaps.

1. Identifying the detergent

Different products often come in similar packaging, and you might want to be certain that you don’t mix them up. Consider stretching Band-It tactile bands around the neck of the bottle to help identify them so that you can easily tell the difference between one and another.

2. Pairing your socks

SockSnaps are circular rubber discs designed to keep your socks paired together in the washing machine. Each disc has a star-shaped slot in the middle; simply push your dirty socks through, to ensure they stay as a pair and then wash and dry as usual. 

3. Washing instructions

If you struggle to read the care labels on your clothes you can use your PenFriend audio labelling device with special laundry labels to fix a talking label on to your shirts, skirts and trousers.

The PenFriend can be used to record your own audio labels for a wide range of items in and around the home. When you need to identify the item, simply place the PenFriend on to the label and it will play back your recording.

The PenFriend Laundry Labels are specially designed to stay stuck to the care label in your clothes for 50 or more washes up to 50 degrees. Use your own voice to record the colour, pattern and care instructions for every item in your wardrobe. You can even remind yourself which other items of clothing and accessories go perfectly together.

4. Apps can help

A free app called Seeing AI for the iPhone has a couple of helpful functions that could help you manage your laundry. The colour identification feature uses your smartphone’s camera to tell you the colour of an item. So long as there is enough light it’s pretty accurate but it might not always know the difference between navy blue and black. With short text enabled Seeing AI could also read out the words on your care label, though it won’t identify the laundry symbols.

The free Be My Eyes app, which is available for Apple and Android devices, connects the user to a sighted volunteer. The connection usually happens in 30 seconds or less. Using the device camera, the volunteer can help with matching clothes or describing colours and reading labels. They can do lots more too, making it one of the most useful apps we have come across.