A Government report published last Friday says designers and manufacturers are failing to consider the difficulties faced by the UK’s 6.5m disabled people.
Published by the Department of Trade and Industry, the research looks at a broad selection of consumer products and the way packaging, handles, grips or controls affect disabled people. It claims many disabled consumers cannot open jam jar lids because their needs are not fully met. Marginalised groups also face difficulties when dealing with household objects such as kettles, tea bags and ironing boards.
Consumer affairs minister Dr Kim Howells says: “Both the design community and manufacturers in the UK have a responsibility to ensure their products can be used safely.
“This report reveals that a large percentage of society is currently being excluded from using every- day household products because their needs are not being fully considered in the design stage. [The] DTI is committed to reversing this trend and is currently researching the possibility of collecting anthropometric and strength data for disabled people so we can supply this free to industry,” he adds.
Robert Feeney, managing director of Robert Feeney Associates, an ergonomics and design consultancy which carried out the research, claims “fundamental practicalities of everyday living represent the biggest hurdles. Being able to make a cup of tea and iron a shirt are activities which able-bodied people take for granted. If you make it impossible for disabled people to complete these tasks you take away their ability to be independent.”
Dr Howells adds: “I want to help businesses empower disabled people to have the highest possible quality of life and believe those British businesses which take up this challenge will take away the market share from those who do not.”