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Does the colour of type 1 tech matter?

JDRF’s Head of Community Engagement, Dan Farrow, on making the colour of tech more inclusive

A black man using a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) pulling up his t shirt to show his wearable type 1 diabetes tech

We know a range of things impact how likely you are to use type 1 diabetes technology, including your personal preferences. Here at JDRF we believe that everyone should have access to the technology that they want. If there’s a potential barrier to use, it needs to be investigated.

Bright white

One potential barrier to use is the colour of technology. As we all know, it has always been white. Bright white. Technology has shifted type 1 diabetes from being a largely invisible condition to one that makes people wearing tech stand out in a crowd. It’s time to examine how we can help people to be more discreet about their technology.

Many people who use technology tell us that they are only too happy to have conversations about what their CGM is, how it helps to keep them alive and to talk about the difference between type 1 and type 2. However, we don’t always get out of bed ready to have the same conversation on repeat, educating others about the condition we live with. We should all be able to have a day off having to explain our condition to others. Wearing our tech in a visible way should be a choice.

Harder to exercise choice

However, the contrast of a white glucose monitor on darker skin makes it harder to be able to exercise that choice. To wear a vest in the summer and not be asked if you’re wearing a nicotine patch, to go to a café without the stares and to go to work and focus on your job rather than your type 1.

It’s time to take a look at the colour of tech. There are a few different options that could make the use of tech more discreet. Many people already buy skin-toned patches to cover their sensors and pumps. However, they fund this themselves and can’t always find a patch to match their skin tone. Is it time that skin-toned patches provided free of charge alongside your glucose monitor? We believe it is.

Time to change the colour of type 1 technology

We also believe it’s time to have a conversation about the colour of tech itself. We can buy plasters in a variety of different colours and even ballet, riddled with tradition and conventions, has become more inclusive by making shoes available in different colours.

When 8.7 million people around the world are living with type 1 diabetes, why are we still making wearable technology bright white?

We don’t have all of the answers right now. We don’t know exactly how large a barrier the colour of tech is, so we need to find out. Open conversations need to take place, research needs to be carried out and a lot of listening needs to happen.

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