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Canadian company builds a better box of chocolates using braille – CBC News

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A move by a Canadian chocolate maker to produce packaging for blind and partially sighted people is one of several campaigns this year by companies trying to make their products more accessible to people with disabilities (PWD).

Purdys Chcolatier created a holiday box of chocolates this Christmas with both a braille label and a braille legend for the chocolates inside.

“When it first launched online and in select shops, it sold out within a matter of hours,” Julia Cho, the brand’s marketing manager, said from its Vancouver factory.

“I know the box is not perfect and we have so much to learn, but to me, it encourages me that this is a step in the right direction.”

The company, which has 80 stores across Canada, rushed to produce more braille boxes, and Cho says another run will come in the new year.

‘There is a lot of work to be done’

Some big-name companies put a spotlight on inclusive products and packages in 2021, says Christina Mallon, the head of inclusive design and accessibility at Wunderman Thompson, a creative agency in New York City.

“There is a trend towards inclusive product design, and I see that in 2022, it’s going to get even larger,” said Mallon, whose clients include the fashion label Tommy Hilfiger, tech giant Microsoft and consumer goods brand Unilever.

Still, Mallon, who is disabled, says the movement is painfully small, compared to the needs of the PWD community.

“There is a lot of work to be done,” she said.

According to Statistics Canada, 6.2 million people, or roughly one in five Canadians, have a disability. About 1.5 million of them identify as having sight loss.

Purdys designed its braille box and legend in consultation with members of the blind and partially sighted community. The National Federation of the Blind in the United States estimates that only one in 10 blind people can read braille.

WATCH | Companies use accessible packaging to promote inclusivity:

Companies pursue inclusivity with accessible packaging

2 days ago

Duration 2:03

Canadian chocolate maker Purdys is the latest company to use accessible packaging, with a new chocolate box that features braille lettering for people who are blind or have low vision. It’s a growing trend aimed at making products more inclusive and user-friendly. 2:03

“This is rare to find braille on a product,” said John Rae, a retired Toronto man who has been blind for most of his adult life. He says he was happy to be able to buy a braille box.

“Many products or services are not constructed or built with blind people in mind.”

An online video from the company features emotional reactions from members of the community to the box.

Companies adopting inclusive design

When it comes to packaging, creating more inclusive or accessible designs has several elements.

“It’s ensuring that you can easily open the packaging. And then it’s ensuring that you can easily manipulate the product to make it work,” Mallon explained. “And that’s ensuring that easy grip, easy tear, open, perforated edges; ensuring that someone with a visual impairment can actually identify the product.”

Mallon, who has paralysis in both arms, has struggled as a consumer with packaging and difficult-to-handle products, as well as with clothing.

Her personal experiences helped her guide Unilever through creating a more accessible design for its deodorant brand Degree.

Earlier this year, a new container for Degree was tested with 200 Americans who have disabilities.

Online videos from the company show athletic people with disabilities using the product. A more informational video shows the container’s hook-shaped cap, ergonomic bottom grip, braille labelling and large applicator.

A team of experts, including Mallon, and others with disabilities were part of the design process.

Unilever has not announced when the product will be launched, but Procter & Gamble is selling Oil of Olay face creams with an “easy open lid” online.

WATCH | Christina Mallon on the trend toward inclusive product design:

Christina Mallon on the trend toward inclusive product design

2 days ago

Duration 1:27

Christina Mallon, the head of inclusive design and accessibility at creative agency Wunderman Thompson, explains how packages and products can be made more inclusive. 1:27

The company also did not patent the design and published it on the internet so other manufacturers could use it.

Some beauty brands have been providing forms of accessible packaging for years.

L’Occitane started putting braille on its packages in 1997.

Canadian social media influencer Molly Burke, who is blind, has critiqued the packaging of a number of beauty products in online videos.

Much more work needed to create change

There are signs of progress in packaging design in other industries, too.

Kellogg’s tested a more accessible QR code design this year to help partially sighted customers identify products and get information about them.

Microsoft created easy-to-open packaging for its Xbox Adaptive Controller.

Mallon celebrates these high-profile efforts but says people with disabilities are still all too often low-priority customers.

“I’ve been doing this for about seven years,” she said. “And I can name all the accessible products and the mainstream brands on both of my hands.”

People with disabilities are a huge market

Mallon points out that people with disabilities are a huge market.

According to the World Health Organization, roughly 15 per cent of the world’s population, or about 1.1 billion people, identify as having some form of disability. WHO says this makes people with disabilities the world’s largest minority group.

Return on Disability, a Canadian research and advocacy firm, found that the number of people with disabilities around the world represents an emerging market the size of China plus the European Union, with $1.9 trillion in disposable income every year.

Add to that estimate an aging population in many counties, which will mean more consumers with disabilities in the future.

Yet Mallon says she still encounters company executives with doubts about the value of this market.

“I think some brands are still hesitant because they believe that it’s still a niche market that doesn’t have the money,” she said.

Peter Athanasopoulos​ says companies are not moving fast enough to make packaging and products more accessible for people with disabilities. It’s been estimated that people with disabilities have $1.9 trillion in disposable income every year. (Submitted by Peter Athanasopoulos)

Peter Athanasopoulos​ agrees that doubting the disabled shopper is a mistake.

He suffered a spinal cord injury in a diving accident as a teenager and has limited use of his fingers.

Today he’s the director of public policy for Spinal Cord Injury Ontario and lives independently in Bluewater, Ont.

He says people with disabilities are excellent customers for companies that make their products and packages easier for them to use.

“I become super loyal when I see a company doing that. When I find something that works, I stick to it,” Athanasopoulos said. “So there’s a value for that company.”

He also thinks that it’s time for companies to pick up the pace of change. “Are they getting better fast enough? I would say not.”  

Young designers being taught inclusivity   

At design schools across the country, the product and packaging designers of the future are being taught to bring the values of inclusivity and accessibility into their work, says Donna Saccutelli.

Saccutelli, a graphic design professor at Seneca College in Toronto, helped the school launch a targeted Inclusive Design for Business program just six months ago.

The 120 spots in it filled up quickly.

Donna Saccutelli, a graphic design professor at Seneca College in Toronto, helped the school launch a targeted Inclusive Design for Business program. She says inclusivity is just as important in design as environmental sustainability. (Paul Shecter)

Saccutelli said that “there’s been a lack of awareness in companies with decision-makers” about accessible design.

Now, she’s training designers to think about inclusivity as being just as important as environmental sustainability.

“Where the world is today, we need to be doing that.”

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China cuts rates on policy loans for first time since April 2020 – CNBC

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A woman walks past the headquarters of the People’s Bank of China in Beijing, China.
Jason Lee | Reuters

China’s central bank on Monday cut the borrowing costs of its medium-term loans for the first time since April 2020, defying market expectations, to cushion any economic slowdown.

The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) said it was lowering the interest rate on 700 billion yuan ($110.19 billion) worth of one-year medium-term lending facility (MLF) loans to some financial institutions by 10 basis points to 2.85% from 2.95% in previous operations.

Thirty-four out of the 48 traders and analysts, or 70% of all participants, polled by Reuters last week predicted no change to the MLF rates, although a rising number of market participants start to forecast a rate cut.

With 500 billion yuan worth of MLF loans maturing on Monday, the operation resulted a net 200 billion yuan of fresh fund injections into the banking system.

The central bank also lowered the borrowing costs of seven-day reverse repurchase agreements, or repos, by the same margin to 2.10% from 2.20%, when it offered another 100 billion yuan worth of reverse repos into the banking system on the day, compared with 10 billion worth of such short-term liquidity tool due on Monday.

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Credit Suisse chairman resigns after company probe – BBC News

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Antonio Horta-Osorio, former chairman of Credit Suisse.

Reuters

The chairman of global banking giant Credit Suisse, Antonio Horta-Osorio, has resigned with immediate effect after an internal company probe.

He was reportedly found to have broken the UK’s Covid-19 quarantine rules.

The former boss of Lloyds Banking Group joined Credit Suisse after a series of scandals at the Swiss bank.

Now, Mr Horta-Osorio, who was the chairman of Credit Suisse for less than a year, has been replaced by board member Axel Lehmann.

“I regret that a number of my personal actions have led to difficulties for the bank and compromised my ability to represent the bank internally and externally,” Horta-Osorio said in a statement issued by the bank.

“I therefore believe that my resignation is in the interest of the bank and its stakeholders at this crucial time,” he added.

Last month, it was reported by the Reuters news agency that a preliminary investigation by Credit Suisse had found that Mr Horta-Osorio had breached Covid-19 rules.

He reportedly attended the Wimbledon tennis finals in July at a time when the UK’s Covid-19 rules required him to be in quarantine.

Speaking to the BBC, a spokesperson for Credit Suisse said that the bank would give no further details on Mr Horta-Osorio’s resignation other than those in its statement.

They also said that there were no plans to release the findings of the investigation.

Before joining Credit Suisse Mr Horta-Osorio was chief executive of British lender Lloyds Banking Group.

He was brought in to lead Switzerland’s second-largest bank to help clean up a corporate culture marred by its involvement with collapsed investment company Archegos and insolvent supply chain finance firm Greensill Capital.

In February 2020, then-Credit Suisse chief executive Tidjane Thiam resigned after a scandal revealed the bank had spied on senior employees.

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UK government to cut funding for BBC – Mail on Sunday report

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Britain’s government will cut the BBC’s funding by ordering a two-year freeze on the fee that people pay to watch the broadcaster, the Mail on Sunday reported.

The future of the licence-payer funded British Broadcasting Corporation is a perpetual topic of political debate, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government most recently suggesting its funding needs to be reformed.

Set against an inflation rate expected to reach a 30-year high of 6% or more in April, freezing the licence cost at its current 159 pounds ($217.40) would provide some relief to consumers battling sharply rising costs of living.

But it would also be a large blow to the BBC’s finances as it tries to compete with privately funded news outlets and the likes of Netflix and other entertainment streaming services funded by consumer subscriptions.

In November, the government launched negotiations to agree how much the TV licence would cost, part of a five year funding settlement due to begin in April 2022.

The Digital, Media, Culture and Sport department declined to comment when asked about the Mail on Sunday report.

Culture secretary Nadine Dorries said that the licence fee settlement would be the last such agreement and tweeted a link to the Mail on Sunday article.

“Time now to discuss and debate new ways of funding, supporting and selling great British content,” she said on Twitter.

The BBC declined to comment on Dorries’ tweet or the Mail on Sunday report.

The opposition Labour Party said the funding cut was politically motivated.

“The Prime Minister and the Culture Secretary seem hell-bent on attacking this great British institution because they don’t like its journalism,” said Lucy Powell, Labour lawmaker and culture policy chief.

The BBC’s news output is regularly criticised by UK political parties. Its coverage of Brexit issues – central to Johnson’s government – has long been seen as overly critical by supporters of leaving the European Union.

Last week, one Conservative lawmaker said BBC coverage relating to parties in Johnson’s Downing Street residence during coronavirus lockdowns amounted to a “coup attempt” against the prime minister.

($1 = 0.7314 pounds)

 

(Reporting by William James. Editing by Jane Merriman)

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