Now anyone can bake?

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.

 

2 thoughts on “Now anyone can bake?

  1. Simon,

    First of all, I’d like to apologise for the fact that your message slipped through the net. We have a really caring customer services department, and I know they are very disappointed that your note didn’t get the attention it truly deserved. We are now putting processes in place to highlight, escalate and communicate any similar queries in future. We have a small, busy team and a big vision that we need to stay focused on, but the only way we can continue to improve is to keep our ear to the ground and to maintain an open dialogue with our whole community.

    The Drop Kitchen Scale and Recipe App are the first steps in our exciting journey to becoming the kitchen operating system. Accessibility has to be a big part of our vision to support the entire kitchen. To this end, I would love to chat to you directly about what we can do to make that happen. If you are amenable to it, we’d be honoured to have you as an advocate for the wider community that can benefit from Drop being more accessible. We can make changes right away. They will be small initially, but I also want to make a commitment to you that we will continue to keep accessibility at the forefront of our design and development.

    I am a product designer by trade and have always been a proponent of universal design. In 2013, the Institute of Designers of Ireland honoured me with an award for “best universal design” for a project I developed for a former employee – Leckey (designers of products for kids with special needs) – which is why I am especially annoyed at myself for not prioritising this earlier. Thank you for pointing out our shortcomings. We’d love to hear your thoughts on how we can make the Drop Kitchen app a more accessible experience.

    Since seeing your post, all of us here at Drop have been looking into your journey and we are all humbled and inspired by your endeavours. I love your quote on “technology being an opportunity” and we have a duty to facilitate that.

    Hope to hear from you soon,

    Best,

    Ben Harris

    CEO and co-founder of Drop

  2. Hi Ben, I appreciate you responding to my post. I will absolutely be in touch and would love to help make the Drop scales accessible!

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