Reducing extra costs: our projects

In honour of International Day of People with Disabilities, the last Foresight and Innovation blog focused on how technology can benefit disabled people. We had some great responses to this theme and some of our students at Scope’s Beaumont FE college in Lancaster shared their thoughts on what difference technology has made to their lives.  This week, building on this theme, we are looking at products and services more generally and are asking what factors are most important to disabled people and their families when selecting a product, service or brand?

One of Scope’s priorities and themes is financial well-being. Our report Priced Out has revealed that disabled people spend £550 per month more on average on day to day items relating to their disability which is a big issue for disabled people, and so we have established an independent Extra Costs Commission to investigate the causes of these costs and identify effective ways to reduce them.

What are we doing?

Here in the Innovation Unit the problem of disability related costs has captured our imagination and we’ve set up ‘Project Thrifty’ to explore ways that Scope might practically help reduce these extra costs, perhaps by providing opportunities to people share their tips for lower cost alternatives through our digital community, brokering discounts on popular products, or potentially negotiating bulk purchasing opportunities.

We have also been developing a relationship with IKEA to see how their existing low cost homewares range could better meet disabled people’s needs. We had a great response to our survey, and initial research shows that some parents of disabled children are already using IKEA products in interesting ways. One mum on the Scope forum told us she has adapted an IKEA plant stand on wheels for use as a feeding pump holder for her child. It’s a fraction of the cost of the hospital version, and looks much nicer!

A few weeks ago we held a focus group with parents of disabled children, in the IKEA store in Wembley, North London. Within five minutes the group were talking about sawing the legs off children’s beds, adapting inflatable changing mats for use as play mats, and by the end they’d practically designed a whole new system for ensuring plates and cups don’t get knocked off the dinner table! Last week we held a focus group with adults and older disabled people who were equally creative in thinking about how homewares could be improved to better meet their needs. One of our favourites was an idea to create pull out surfaces at different levels in the kitchen to make it easier for wheelchair users to prepare food and rest hot pans or plates while they moved around the kitchen. The energy and creativity was astonishing and we have some great insight to share with IKEA when we meet them again this week.

Get in touch!

We’d love to hear your own views and experiences, to help us find ways to reduce the cost of living for disabled people and their families. In particular we’d like to hear about whether or not you use the internet to shop online, and what your thoughts are around this area.

Have a look at our questions about your experience of online shopping on our forum, and share your stories with us.

Q&A with Viktoria Modesta

On Sunday night, Viktoria’s promo video, Prototype, premiered to millions of people during one of the ad breaks of the X Factor final. We asked Viktoria about the project:

How are you feeling after the launch of your single Prototype? What reactions have you had?

So far the reactions have been almost all very positive. I have been lucky enough to accumulate people that follow my work and understand it. So far it has been very rewarding.

You have some incredible prosthetic legs – which is your favourite?

My Favourite is definitely the spike. It’s another level. It’s conceptual and something that hasn’t been done before. It’s an idea from a dream I had so it’s personal.

Do you think you get treated differently as a disabled person?

People react to you according to your attitude about yourself. A confident, genuine personality, with a positive outlook, doesn’t draw that much negative treatment, whether you are disabled or not. I also feel very strongly that I do not represent a large portion of the disabled community; I would never claim to be doing that.

Can you tell us about any ‘knock backs’ you’ve had in the past from the music industry? How did they make you feel?

I would like to think that the knock backs I’ve had were due to mixed things like wrong timing, wrong material. I don’t think I haven’t reached ultimate success yet because of my leg alone. In fact I think it’s very far from the truth. My values are that to be good at something you need to compete against every player regardless of details such as artificial body parts. I don’t expect charity or special treatment I would simply like to play on equal terms.

What has driven you to succeed?

Initially it was about survival and escape from Latvia and its soviet repression. Later in London it was about looking for a tribe to explore myself. When I was young, I spent a large amount of time in seclusion having treatment. So when I came to London I was like a kid in a sweetshop. I wanted to try everything – every fashion, every kind of movement. The turning point was my realisation that I needed to drastically improve my health, to be the person I was starting to form. When I eventually had an operation to amputate my leg below-the-knee things started to become clearer. It served my health and my life to the standard I expected. The last seven years have been the most magical, sometimes like a movie with crazy ups and downs. Now that my health worries are over, I am comfortable in my own skin. Recent support from amazing people like Channel 4 has eliminated any remaining insecurities I might have had from childhood. I am inspired to live a happy and passionate life where I can collaborate with people and contribute something back.

Which artists inspire you?

I’m an 80/90’s child. My first two records were Prodigy and 2PAC. It’s when I came to London in 1999 that my artistic influences really began – it’s a mixture of club characters, eccentric friends and performance artist. Creatively I never feel obsessed with one person but I really enjoy artists that mix it up with media and visuals. I think if you going to experience a show or a song you need the correct imagery to touch all your senses.

What advice would you give to other disabled musicians trying to break through?

Don’t expect things to come easy but also don’t feel like the world is against you. If you are passionate there are so many lovely people out there to help you.

You will inspire many people – what kind of role model do you want to be?

If anyone is looking at me in that way, I would like them to take away the importance of being true to yourself and not my specific actions because they were tailored for my life. I would like people to interpret my attitudes and apply however fits them.