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Kerttu Rannik

  • Glass
  • MA
  • Glassware set for visually impaired users
  • Tutor: Heikki Zoova
Orange drinking glass

About 90% of all perceived information is received through vision. That is why product design also relies a lot on the sense of sight. According to the World Health Organization’s last report on blindness, there are 2.2 billion visually impaired people in the world. At the moment, however, there is a lack of suitable glass products on the market that take into account the needs of visually impaired people and are comfortable to use.

The aim of this Master’s thesis is to provide an overview of some of the problems that a visually impaired person may encounter when using glass products. The study broke the stereotype that people with visual impairments do not use glass products. It turned out that many visually impaired people use glass products, however, they deserve more comfortable and safer items. The new set of glassware helps people with visual impairments to be involved in a functioning society through design and it improves their independence as well as emotional and social coping. 

In the framework of the Master’s thesis a set of drinking glasses and glass jugs was made with a general goal to better take into account the needs of visually impaired people. The aim was to create a product that would be suitable for use by as many people as possible, regardless of their eyesight.

The goal was not to create something unprecedented, but to study and implement different solutions following the principles of universal design. I wanted to prove that simple adjustments can make the product more inclusive.

The products have been made safer through three main adjustments: shape, colour and Braille marking. 

1) Shape
The glassware has a thick wall and a heavy base. This ensures that the glass stays upright and it also makes the product more resistant to breakage. All the products included in the set are convex in shape, therefore they are easier to hold firmly in hand and are less slippery. This shape also makes the glass more resistant compared to having a straight side profile.

2) Colour
The bright orange base and rim make the transparent product more visible and help the user to distinguish it from the background. Coloured markings enable easier pouring, drinking and placing the product on the table in a safer way.

3) Braille marking
Braille signage helps the user recognise their drinking glass in a social event. Similarly, the marking can help to recognise the liquid contained in the glass jug. Glass dots on the surface enable the user to have a better grip of the glass.

Glassblower Eili Soon and glassblower’s assistant Kaie Vakepea from Olustvere Glass studio helped with the practical part of this work.

Technical drawing
Red drinking glass
Jug prototypes
Idea for a goblet/shot glass
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