Are you looking for a washing machine that's accessible and easy to use if you are blind or partially sighted, or have dexterity issues?
Here are the top seven ease-of-use features to ask for when you are considering buying a new washing machine:
1. Tactile features
- Has the machine got tactile markings on the control panel, like raised notches or arrows on the dial that line up with settings?
- Does the dial click (slot) into place?
- Does the detergent tray have tactile markings for compartments and fill lines?
2. Audio output
- Are there audible tones on the buttons or keypad?
- Is there any audio output to let you know when a wash cycle has finished?
- Are there audible alerts to warn you about problems with the settings, cycle or machine?
3. Visual contrast
- Are buttons or controls lit with LED lights?
- Is the control interface a touch screen?
- Is the control interface a digital-only display?
- Is there good colour contrast between the markings and their background?
- Is it easy to use the buttons and/or dial to select a programme or setting?
- Are the settings and controls well spaced?
- Are the controls manual, electronic, or a combination of both?
- Does the machine have auto-dosing for the detergent?
- Is there any indication of programme status or time remaining? If so, how is this displayed?
- What sort of confirmation do you receive when setting the machine? For instance, does the dial click into place? Do the buttons beep or light up?
- How will you know when you've reached maximum fill level in the detergent tray? Is this indication tactile, audio, and/or visual?
- Can you pause the cycle or change the programme mid-cycle if necessary? And if so, is this done manually or electronically?
- Does the machine have an auto clean capability?
- Is the detergent tray easy to remove and clean?
- Does the machine alert you when there's a problem? If so, how is this warning given? For instance, beeps or flashing lights.
- Is the 'fluff collector' accessible?
7. Smart features
- Is the machine internet enabled?
- Do the smart features on the app provide any touch or audio feedback?
- Can you access all the machine programmes through the app?