RNIB partners with Mira Showers to create a fully accessible shower
Mira Showers approached RNIB for their expertise to design and test a shower that's accessible to blind and partially sighted people.
- Who: Mira Showers
- What: RNIB reviewed Mira's initial design suggestions and did an expert assessment
- How: RNIB organised a workshop to test the shower
- Result: In addition to RNIB accreditation the Mira Showers team aim to use the learnings to inform the design of future products
Robin Spinks, Head of Inclusive Design at RNIB, explains how important it is for companies to consult with RNIB, to fully understand accessible design and create the best user experience:
"In the UK there are roughly 2 million people who are blind and partially sighted. It's really important for every manufacturer to embed inclusive design into their products and services.
"RNIB has a range of services to enable companies to do that - to show how to take an inclusive design approach to the whole product pathway, so that every stage of the design, execution and delivery creates a condensed user experience."
Getting the right standard and building a knowledge base
Suzannah Adey, Product Marketing Manager, Mira Showers:
"This product is really up to a healthcare standard in addition to RNIB accreditation."
RNIB organised a workshop which consisted of visual awareness, important design features, a review of Mira's current showers and of Mira's initial design suggestions for the Select Flex shower. Mira Showers than forwarded the initial designs to RNIB for review.
Once a prototype was produced, an expert assessment was done to ensure that the product was suitable for user testing.
A group of blind and partially sighted people were then invited to test the shower. The testing came up with very useful feedback. Some changes were made with regards to the temperature indicator, that now, in addition to blue and red, has the words Hot and Cold added, so that it can't be confused with the flow adjustment which has Min and Max.
User testing with some people, with some residual vision and with none, was an essential part of the design process to ensure that blind and partially sighted people can also use the product.
"The final product really demonstrates a lot of care and attention has been paid to the issues that matter: the colour contrast, the tactility of the button, but also how easy it would be for someone like me who's registered severely sight impaired to use. It's a real delight to be able to look at a product and think that wouldn't present a challenge to me using it."
Equipping the installer and user with a Braille and audio guide
RNIB recommended incorporating Braille into both the product guide that describes how to use the shower and the shower itself. Mira Showers also now has its first audio guide.
"This is our first audio user guide, but it's a really exciting one. I think it's definitely set the benchmark for other products that are targeted to that aid and adaptation environment and should be a standard for us."
The shower has Braille references - such as start and end points of scales and rotation. There are bumps that echo Braille to imply you've got the limits between full hot and full cold or full and minimal flow. The raised letter T identifies which control is which - one being temperature and the other flow. There are also large graphics, with a large font size of 15 points, and high contrast, non-reflective surfaces.
Creating the template for inclusive products
The Mira Showers team aim to use learnings of this project, to inform the design of future products to make them more inclusive.
"We can use the collaboration with RNIB to move forward in the right way. There are franchisable elements that we can carry across to future products - so audio feedback, the non-reflective surfaces, the tactility, the Braille references. These are all things that we can transfer to future products and map out our offerings for anybody across any sector."