I PURCHASED a pedometer for the ever suffering Mrs S for her birthday at her request.
When she opened it and asked me to set it up she also handed me the booklet that had all the instructions in about ten different languages.
Well, I have to tell you, it was impossible – not because I didn’t know any of the ten languages but because the writing was so small that it could not possibly be read. I don’t wear glasses, not even for reading, and I even tried with a magnifying glass and I still couldn’t work out what the instructions said.
This has happened to me a few times recently. I challenge you to pick up any toothpaste box, deodorant can or, come to think of it anything in that size box, can or bottle and read the instructions on the back.
So why? In their eagerness to create new and fancy products, companies very often overlook the optical needs of their older consumers. Sometimes that oversight is just a small daily annoyance. But, in some cases, it can also have potentially dangerous consequences.
What if, as in many cases, there is something important that needs to be passed on regarding a potential safety issue? Regulations and lawyers have helped turn boxes, bottles and instruction manuals into a fine-print nightmare by demanding so much information that the print must be tiny to accommodate it all.
Otherwise, the packaging and manuals would be too big and costly. But that doesn’t help me or other oldies trying to read the darned things.
Another reason is the young designers themselves. Young designers want to reinvent the world, but they have none of the problems of eyesight challenges.
So it’s very difficult for them to imagine why fine print should be an issue. Having said that I bet some of them struggle too.
Then, of course, a lot of companies are trying to go global and that means trying to fit text in several languages into one document or one bottle to meet each country’s regulations.
I’m not even sure if there is a minimum size font they have to use.
There is no point in complaining to any of the big companies because they don’t give a monkey’s but I am tempted to have a little try in contacting a few smaller companies to see what they say.
I know it was a few weeks ago that Barry Chuckle of the Chuckle Brothers died but it made me think – I don’t believe anyone that has ever picked up a bit of furniture in their house to move it hasn’t uttered the now immortal phrase, ‘To me… To you.’ Not the funniest line ever but I’d love a Euro for every time a member of the public has used it. Email: email@example.com