Collaborative group tackles disability issue

Design groups are to be offered a new resource, aimed at helping them to understand the needs and desires of disabled consumers.

Design for Ability, a collaborative group formed by educationalists at Central St Martins College, design groups, disabled people and professional carers, has launched a CD-ROM of quantitative consumer research tailored to the disabled. The disk includes mood boards to relate the research to lifestyles, and is thought to be the first product of its type.

The initial aim of DfA is to help move the design of disability aids, such as wheelchairs and walking frames, away from the “Meccano aesthetic” they currently have, says Martin Darbyshire, partner at product design group Tangerine and one of the collaborators in the project. The research suggests that 30 per cent of such aids are not used, often because of their clinical appearance.

In the long term DfA hopes the UK’s four million disabled consumers will be taken into account by all product designers.

See News Analysis, page 8

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