Danielle Cleary was 22 when she thought she might be pregnant. She’s been blind her whole life due to retinopathy and her partner at the time also had a visual impairment, meaning the pair were unable to see the result of their pregnancy test.
Cleary, from Croydon, London, didn’t want to tell family and friends, so she resorted to asking her neighbour to read the test for her.
“To be in that situation and not to be able to find out what’s going on with your body before someone else does, is horrible,” she tells HuffPost UK. “It was negative and my neighbour said: ‘That’s probably for the best, isn’t it?’ I thought: ‘That really isn’t any of your concern.’”
At the age of 27, and by this time ready for a baby, Cleary realised her period was late again, and so she asked her mum to read the pregnancy test for her.
She gave birth to a baby girl, but her relationship ended two years later, and Cleary, now 36, is a single parent, living with her mum, best friend and eight-year-old daughter.
She says the stigma surrounding being a blind mum continues.
Cleary is sharing her story as part of a campaign by Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), called Design For Everyone. The initiative aims to raise awareness of the importance of accessible design and information – and uses pregnancy tests as an example.
Every year, thousands of blind and partially sighted women have no choice but to rely on other people to read their pregnancy results, meaning their private news becomes public.
To prove that accessible tests are possible, RNIB has worked with designers to create the first prototype for a new, tactile test. The test uses the same technology as digital tests, but has a mechanical output, instead of a screen, with raised buds to...