Disability Innovations: So, what do you think?

Disability Innovations is a blog series that gathers some of the most interesting new products and services that aim to make disabled people’s lives easier. We hope it will inspire more innovation in the disability field.

From the outset we’ve been hoping that by showcasing ideas and innovative products, this blog will help inspire and encourage other people in this field. We are passionate about how we can help share the news about innovative products, to allow all you lovely people to hear about, and hopefully benefit from them.

Since starting this blog series we have received emails from a number of people who are involved in making innovative products for disabled people. They are often looking for direct feedback to help them design the most exciting and useful product possible.

That’s where you come in! We’d love to present a couple of new ideas that have been sent our way to get your feedback. Whether you are disabled, or are interested in this area, your feedback (positive and negative!) is really valuable and could help in designing and perfecting the next great product.

We’d also like to hear what you have thought of other things featured in our blogs so far. We’ll do a round-up of some of them at the end and we’d love to know what you think and if you have any personal experience of any of the products. Have a read of the ideas below and get in touch either by commenting on this post or emailing us at innovation@scope.org.uk.

  1. Accessible, 3D printed products

We recently heard from Luca Parmegiani, an Italian product designer based in London working for Myminifactory. He is focused on creating products that offer solutions for a range of daily challenges that are linked to mobility or dexterity.

collage of 3D products

He has designed 3D printed items so that people who own a 3D printer can download and print them freely. They include key holders, bottle openers, and cup holders. He wants to work with individuals to make products as tailored as possible to the individual.

Luca is looking for constructive criticism, advice and suggestions around his products and idea. Check out his Facebook page to see more about what he is working on.

  1. Brunel University and Blue Badge Style winners

Fiona Jarvis got in touch with us from Blue Badge Style. They asked students at Brunel University to design accessories that would make a standard wheelchair more stylish. Fiona is looking for feedback on two of the three winning ideas.

Backback Pack

The first is the BackBack Pack, which fulfilled the criteria of being universally desirable, not just by wheelchair users. They are currently investigating production of the bag. The aim is that it will be a high quality, well designed item that is remarkable for its superior quality and design.

Cup Holder

The second is the cup holder that attaches to a wheelchair and is suitable for a number of different sizes and styles of glass or cup. Like the BackBack Pack it is also in prototype stage. Check out this video of how it works.

Image of an accessible cup holder

Fiona would love feedback on both of these ideas, what you think of their design and whether you think you might use any of these products. She would also more specifically like to know how much realistically you would be willing to pay for these items and why.

  1. Featured Innovations

Since we started this blog series we have featured 14 different innovations. We’d like to hear about whether you have followed up on any of the things you have read about, and what experience you have with these products. Some of them were still in the test phase and aren’t widely available, but we’d love to know what you think of them. Here is a quick rundown of six of the most popular ideas featured:

Talkitt – a voice to voice app which aims to enable people with motor, speech, and language conditions to communicate freely and easily using their own voice. We liked how it is based fully on the user’s own voice, enabling more natural communication.

RogerVoice – an App that enables people with hearing impairments to have conversations on the phone, by converting speech to subtitles in real time. What interested us was how it aims to make mainstream technology even more inclusive.

Una Tickets a new primary ticketing service that hopes to develop the most accessible ticket system out there. Una’s approach is hoping to improve accessibility at all stages of the ticketing experience, from purchasing a ticket, to accessing the venue. This is a mainstream service that wants to put a real emphasis on accessibility, which made it stand out for us.

Be My Eyesan iPhone app that connects visually impaired people with volunteer helpers from around the world via live video chat, to allow sighted volunteers to ‘lend’ their eyes and assist with tasks such navigating surroundings and identifying food labels. We love the sense of community and the simple pleasure of helping someone out that this app creates.

Andiamo a startup creating healthcare solutions for disabled children, with a mission to see no child ever having to wait more than one week to receive medical device. Their first venture is looking to 3D print orthotic supports, from back braces and wrist braces, to open foot orthoses. We like how this project is driven by parents of a disabled child who are using their first hand experience to find innovative solutions to real problems.

HandSteadya cup designed especially for people with arthritis, tremors, muscle weakness or limited dexterity, to help reduce spills when drinking and increase independence. It’s a simple design, and a nice reminder that innovation isn’t always ground breaking new technologies, but sometimes small tweaks that make a big difference.

Over to you!

So there you go. We hope you’ve enjoyed hearing about these ideas and products. Please send us your comments and feedback and together we can be part of creating innovative products that are centered around the user.

As with all our blogs, this is for information only. Scope does not endorse this product or service. We try to make sure our information is up to date and accurate at the time of publishing.

To give us feedback on these products, or to tell us about another disability innovation you have seen, please either comment on the blog or email us at innovation@scope.org.uk.

Don’t worry, the treadmill isn’t for me – #EndTheAwkward

Guest post by Emily Yates, a travel writer, disability awareness trainer and consultant – she’s currently working on accessibility in Rio de Janeiro ahead of the 2016 Olympics. Emily is sharing some of her awkward moments as part of our End the Awkward campaign.

My boyfriend is really into his mountaineering and is currently training for an ultra-marathon. He recently ordered a treadmill to help him on his way, and arranged for it to be delivered to the house during the day. Portrait of Emily, a young woman with pink hairHe was at work when the delivery man turned up and rang the bell, but I was home and opened the door to let the guy in.

When he saw me sat there in my wheelchair smiling at him, he almost dropped the treadmill and ran for the hills! He was so visibly shocked and worried he’d got the wrong house number – how could I, a girl with cerebral palsy, use this running machine?!

After apologising and assuring him this was the right house and my boyfriend had actually placed the order, we were able to giggle about it. And of course, I texted Rob straight after to tell him of my awkward, but hilarious, ten minutes

A magnet for awkwardness

For some reason, my disability and the fact I always have bright clothes and hair seem to reduce the need for people to give me personal space. Maybe I’m just a magnet for awkwardness!

Emily sitting in her wheelchair, a beach behind her
Emily on a trip to Australia

Guys seem to think it’s totally acceptable to come up to me in a bar and ask whether or not I can have sex. My response? Yeah, I can mate, but I won’t be having it with you!

I’ve been on planes where I’ve had to crawl down the length of the aisle to get to the toilet after being told that the plane’s in-flight wheelchair has been ‘forgotten’.Emily sitting in her wheelchair, smiling at the camera

I’ve let go of my wheelchair whilst transferring into my car, and watched it roll across the car park at ridiculous speed before smashing into someone else’s vehicle (oops!).

And the other day, I was in Starbucks and struggling to open a ketchup sachet for my sausage sandwich. After not succeeding with my hands, I put the sachet between my teeth and pulled. No luck. I must’ve been quite obviously struggling as a man came over to me, took it out of my mouth, battled with it himself then handed it to me, a victorious look on his face (and probably a reasonable amount of my spit on his fingers).

In one respect, this guy made my day with his problem solving, but really… Who does that?

So, tips to help us all be less awkward: If you want to get your leg over, try and build up the atmosphere just a little bit first. Don’t be surprised when the product you’re delivering to a house isn’t fit for a wheelchair user. And absolutely allow everyone to keep their ketchup to themselves.

We’ve partnered with Channel 4 to produce six short films on awkwardness and disability.