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Our favourite disability designs from 2017’s graduates

August 16, 2017 in Post

It’s that wonderful time of year again! Young designers have been emerging from universities across the UK where they’ve worked tirelessly to learn the skills they need to design the products and systems that will make our future world great.

We are always inspired by design that does good, and as we visited degree shows this year we saw a huge range of design concepts that have the potential to help people in so many aspects of life.

In no particular order, we present our favourite disability designs from 2017, here goes!

1. Freedom for people affected by lung disease

Pearl Pulges Email

Oxy portable oxygen concentrator


“In the UK, approximately 10,000 people are newly diagnosed with a lung disease every week. These diseases could happen to anyone ranging from babies up to the elders. This portable oxygen concentrator concept design weighs just around 1.5 kg, containing long lasting battery life, simple user interface and functionality focused. The design also features an integrated oximeter and heart rate sensor with Bluetooth connection to smart devices to help reassure and track the patient’s use of oxygen.”

Pearl was inspired to design a better solution having seen a family member using a static oxygen machine that meant he was unable to move around. We adore Pearl’s simple styling which makes this medical device seem approachable and unobtrusive.


“This design was inspired by my grandfather who passed away. The vivid memory of him being chained to a massive machine, getting oxygen pumped harshly into his body was traumatising. This image stimulated and pushed me to design something that would ease out people lives and improve their quality of living.”


2. Turning young patients into brave superheroes

Sophie Copley Email

Little Heroes children's hospital gowns


“These superhero hospital garments have been developed for children aged 2-6 years, where increased anxiety due to a lack of understanding and critical thinking leads to worsened outcomes from surgery. Currently, children are made to wear gowns which leave them feeling exposed and uncomfortable.”

Sophie designed the garments in collaboration with patients at University College London Hospital, using voting, interviews, and colouring activities that meant the young patients could get involved and excited about their ‘superpowers’. For children who need to spend time in hospital, we think this new take on the hospital gown could turn a daunting experience into a new adventure.


“The superhero aesthetic aims to empower children during a stressful time by offering a fun, engaging distraction and an improved hospital experience. The Little Heroes Project has already brought smiles to many children in the paediatric wards at UCLH. A trial of the garments in the paediatric wards is currently being planned for later this year.”


3. Empowering amputees to service their own prosthetics

Toby Rutter Email Website

 “I was interested how amputees see their prosthetic as a part of themselves and through design I could try to improve this interaction between the amputees and their prosthetic. I came to the conclusion that there are two main barriers to amputees using advanced prostheses; price and durability.”

Toby set about exploring ways to encourage better relationships between people and their own prosthetics, arriving at a solution which enables people to carry out maintenance and repairs without input from a technician. With growing NHS waiting times, we love Toby’s approach that could empower people to maintain their own prosthetics with simple tools in their own homes.


“Nuada is aimed to empower amputees with the ability to service their own prosthesis themselves. Its 3D printed design and modular finger cartridges allow amputees to replace broken fingers, removing the need to send a broken prosthesis back to the manufacture for weeks at a time.”


4. A new use for electric bike technology

Jasmine Taylor Email

 “Assiste uses existing electric bike technology to contain the battery and motor within the wheel. The product is therefore easy to install, the wheels are simply swapped with the standard back wheelchair wheels. This also means the wheelchair can still be folded for transport, another advantage over existing designs.”

Jasmine decided to design a product that would improve comfort for caregivers who need to push manual wheelchairs after gaining valuable insight from her great uncle. We think Jasmine’s approach of borrowing existing parts from the e-bike industry has real potential to bring down the cost of power assist devices, which are unaffordable for many people who could benefit from them.


“My great uncle is a carer for his wife and as he was getting older it was becoming harder to push the wheelchair over long distances. Researching around the subject I found that 86% of carers reported back, shoulder or neck pain. Assiste was designed to combat this by reducing the strain on carers who push attendant controlled wheelchairs over long or difficult journeys, with the pack allowing users to push up to 15 stone with ease.”


5. Reviving hearing for adults

Laurence Munslow Email Website

Revive sport hearing aids


“‘Revive Sport’ challenges the difficulties that young hearing aid users face with physical sport. A small but inventive silicone mould that slips onto the hearing aid and hooks around the back of the ear allows users to engage in sporting activity without the fear of their hearing device becoming loose. The product also acts as protection from weather conditions such as wind and rain that interferes with the hearing aids in-built microphone, enabling users to enjoy uninterrupted sound whilst staying active.”

Laurence’s sport adapter works in conjunction with his concept ‘Revive Spectrum’ a smartphone app that enables individuals to set sound profiles for specific environments, such as a restaurant or office, that activate automatically when you return to the location. We think Laurence’s design sparks an important conversation about the diversity and the different needs of people who live with hearing loss.


“Targeted at young adult hearing aid users, ‘Revive Sport’ and ‘Revive Spectrum’ tackle the issue of moving the hearing aid into the modern era from two different perspectives, approaching it with solutions that address the physical and socio-emotional problems faced with hearing loss. As a young hearing aid user myself, I always found it frustrating that hearing aid design lacked the acknowledgment of its young and growing user base”


6. An evolving mobility aid to support recovery

Marta Ballester Email

Evo Evolving mobility aid wheelchair


“Evo wheelchair is a completely modular wheelchair that accompanies those who have to go through a mobility recovery. It is made from a series of modules that combine to offer a customised solution through the patient pathway, adapting to the specific needs of its user.”

Marta was inspired to tackle this challenge after seeing a friend go through an arduous recovery process after a serious traffic accident, needing different mobility aids at different stages of her rehabilitation. We see so many pairs of crutches, walking frames and wheelchairs sat discarded after being needed for a person’s recovery, so we love Marta’s approach that could help reduce material waste.


“I decided to design an integral solution to meet the needs of those patients who, like my friend, have to use different mobility aids in a relatively short period of time. The different combinations of EVO wheelchairs’ modules give rise to four main setups: transport wheelchair, push rim wheelchair, walker and crutches.The devices can be used in the order that the needs of the patients require, so, EVO wheelchair adapts to a large number of patients who, for different reasons, have to use different mobility aids.”


7. Embracing new technologies to improve healthcare

Oonagh Taggart Email

3D printed orthotic splints


“Traditional craft-based techniques are currently used to manufacture custom orthotics: after the orthotist has cast the patient’s leg, a technician creates a mould which is filled, hardened, modified, draped with plastic and, finally, shaped to fit the patient. This process provides effective outcomes but has numerous flaws. Patient supply typically takes 28 days from casting to delivery. It can be uncomfortable and distressingly invasive for the patient.”

For rapidly growing children, an average waiting time of a month between casting and delivery is likely to mean the braces don’t ever fit perfectly. Oonagh, working with University College London and the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, has developed a system using new technologies to improve the experience of having orthotics. Oonagh’s use of digital manufacturing would allow for people to have their splints customised with their name, patterns and shapes that suit their own style, awesome!


“Patient supply can be greatly reduced through rapid manufacturing, while fit, comfort and aesthetics can all be improved with increased personalisation of the devices. Specifically, Embrace has redesigned the manufacture of custom ankle and foot orthotics using 3D scanning, 3D printing and testing to address the problems. The Embrace orthotics experience offers a better fit, a personalised design and a streamlined service.”


8. Bringing myoelectric technology to the masses

Isobel Billau Email

Myo myoelectric prosthetic arm


“Losing a limb affects a person both physically and mentally, however a prosthetic can aid a person in everyday tasks as well as aiding self-confidence. Most above elbow amputees are supplied with subpar manual prosthetics controlled using large body movements. Alternative Myoelectric (electronically controlled) prosthetics have a natural control system, but extortionate costs mean these cannot be supplied by the NHS or insurance companies.”

Using innovative 3D printing to manufacture the arm means Myo is 300 grams lighter than similar prosthetics and can be made for just a tenth of the cost.


“Myo embraces disability through interchangeable, customisable covers allowing a user to express their individuality through choice of texture, colour and pattern. Myo will be the first affordable myoelectric prosthetic which will allow life changing technology to be delivered to all.”


9. A sensory toy that encourages children to connect with nature

Anna Palgan Email Website

Cubo inclusive sensory toy


“Cubo is a modular sensory toy which allows the parent to build small scale interactive environments. The toy rewards the child for completing a task (ex. reaching out) with sensory feedback (light, sound, vibration). The more complicated is the challenge, the more sensory feedback is given”

Anna’s series of sensory tiles can be built into any arrangement. Each tile is focussed on a different aspect of nature, encouraging children to develop a closer appreciation for the natural world around them. With an increasingly urbanised environment, we love Anna’s approach that provides a completely accessible way to get closer to nature.


“Cubo helps the child develop ’cause-effect’ thinking and stimulate their general cognitive development. The environmental theme of the toy encourages them to develop a positive relationship with nature.”


10. Intuitive navigation for people with visual impairments

Emilios Farrington-Arnas Email Website

 “Being told that you have a lifelong, incurable, eyesight problem is a terrifying prospect; one that is very difficult to come to terms with. For the visually impaired, retaining independence in day-to-day life is important; however, navigation can be a long-winded, potentially unsafe, process, especially in new environments, or at night. Simple tasks like travelling to work can become arduous and time-consuming, and more often than not need planning beforehand.”

Emilios’ system allows people with visual impairments to intuitively navigate their surroundings using vibrations to give alerts to potential obstacles. We love Maptic’s minimal style that could easily be mistaken for a fitness gadget!


“Maptic is a system of wearable sensory devices, consisting of a visual sensor and vibrational feedback system. These customisable, personalisable modules can be worn without attracting the stigma that current assistive products harbour, while still accurately detecting objects in the visual field and transmitting them into intuitive vibrations on the body. Either disguised as jewellery or clips, or worn as statement pieces, Maptic is entirely adaptable to the individual and their style preferences.”


Feeling inspired? Can’t wait for these designs to hit the shelves? Share your thoughts on our top disability design picks in the comments below!

DIY Battery Interrupter

September 29, 2016 in Post, Solution


Via DIYability

Materials required

  • Thin copper sheet
  • Thin cardboard
  • 1/8″ (3.5mm) mono audio jack
  • Hook up wire (22 gauge)
  • Wire cutters/strippers
  • Soldering iron, solder and helping hand soldering stand

Step 1


Using scissors cut two small squares of copper. It is probably best to use older scissors to not dull your good pair. Cut an identical square from a small piece of cardboard the thickness of a postcard or cereal box top is preferred.

Step 2


Using double sided tape, put the copper squares on either side of the cardboard. Trim the final square to make edges even.

Step 3


Cut two wires about six inches in length. Strip 1/4″ of plastic from wire on each end.

Using helping hands position the copper clad and wire. Only the stripped part of the wire should be touching the copper.

Gently touch the soldering iron to the stripped wire to heat it. Touch solder to stripped wire. Solder should melt and cover wire and copper.

Flip the copper piece over and prepare second wire. Solder second wire to backside of copper clad.

Final product should have a small solder joint connecting the wires and copper clad on each side. The wires should not wiggle on the copper.

Put the battery interrupt into a battery operated toy. The positive end ( + ) will touch one side of the copper clad, the other side of copper clad will touch the toy’s battery connector.

Turn the toy’s switch ON, with the copper clad in place the toy should not operate. Touch the two wires to activate the toy. Did it work? If so, congrats! If not, double check that the battery interrupt has one side touching the battery and the other side touching the battery holder.

Step 4


Take the 1/8″ (3.5mm) female switch jack, identify the tabs that will be connected. This particular switch jack has 3 tabs, we will connect a wire to two of them, the tabs on either side, skipping the middle tab.

To connect, bend the wire into a hook and thread it through a tab on the switch jack.

Use helping hands to hold switch jack and wire. With the tabs tightly hooked, fasten the switch and the wire to the helping hands. The wire should be pulled tight so the wire is touching the side of the tab.

Solder the wire and tab together.

After finished with the first wire and tab flip the jack and solder the second tab and wire.

With both wires soldered to the switch jack, the solder pads should be small and the wires should not wiggle. (the middle tab is unused with this particular jack)

Via DIYability

Remember to click the ‘This Helped Me’ button at the top of this page if you give this hack a try!

3D Printed Wheelchair

September 9, 2016 in Post, Solution

Via Thingiverse



3D printing is doing incredible things for prosthetics, with organisations like E-Nable publishing customisable, open source designs that are affordable, even for kids whose requirements change quickly as they grow.

Could this design be the answer to unaffordable mobility aids for thousands of people across the world? Download the CAD files and check out the full tutorial on Thingiverse.

Make sure to comment or click ‘This Helped Me’ at the top f the page if you make one of these incredible chairs!

Keyboard and button helper

August 31, 2016 in Post, Solution

Via Pinshape



A nifty 3D printing project with great potential to help people with dexterity issues. Head over to Pinshape to download the 3D printing files, which are available in 4 sizes to suit different hands!

Don’t forget to click the ‘This Helped Me’ button at the top of the page if you give this a try.


Our favourite disability designs from 2016’s graduates

August 10, 2016 in Post

Our favourite time of year rolls around every July when the exciting projects that design students have been tirelessly working on over the past 9 months are finally revealed. (OK our excitement might have something to do with the sun coming out, but nonetheless it’s a wonderful time of year for design lovers)

We’ve been visiting degree shows around the UK to bring you our top disability design picks for 2016. Here goes!


1. A new take on the hearing aid

Saskia Schular Email
Facebook_Timeline_images_Hearing aids2
“There is social stigma around the use of hearing aids that prevents people from using them and can make them feel self-conscious when they do; only 1 in 30 adults wear a hearing aid when in reality 1 in 10 would benefit from using them.”

Saskia Schular is a young designer using her passion for jewellery fashion to create statement hearing aids that are anything but quiet.


Facebook_Timeline_images_Hearing aids


“The hearing aid has been redesigned to be worn with a range of covers, allowing users to decorate and express themselves through their hearing aids. The covers are attached by magnets which allow the user to change them easily and as often as they want. Designs that are ‘fun’, ‘elegant’ and ‘dramatic’ were created using visual metaphors; they ranged from subtle pieces to be worn every day to statement pieces to complete an outfit.”


2. An affordable robotic prosthetic

Ben Armstrong Website Email


“During my research I found amputees were being exploited by prosthetics companies, who were charging tens of thousands for prosthetic arms. I set out to reduce the cost of such prosthetics using a number of novel design concepts, which included 3D printing as well as lifting components from established industries.”

To move the elbow joint, Ben’s design features a motor manufactured in large quantities for the aerospace industry which dramatically reduces costs compared to existing robotic prosthetics.

“I managed to achieve a 98% cost reduction whilst improving the functionality of the arm, relative to the current market leader. The next stage of the project is to ensure it meets all the relative legal directives. Once this has been completed I plan to launch the project via open source networks. The aim is to allow amputees worldwide to benefit from the design.”


3. A tremor-friendly teapot

Suzannah Hayes Email LinkedIn

“Stability is a range of products including an induction heated teapot kettle, a milk jug and a sugar bowl, which provide a simple and stylish solution to help people with a tremor to safely make a hot cup of tea.”

Suzannah worked with physiotherapists and occupational therapists to design a kettle alternative that was safe to use but was also a stylish addition in the kitchen.

“The teapot itself is stainless steel and would be placed in a double layer ceramic bowl which has an induction coil. The handle would have a silicone cover to make it easy to grip and prevent it from being hot to touch. The legs would be aluminium so that they are not affected by the induction heating and therefore do not get hot and the base has been designed in a stylish and practical cork.”


4. New no-splash tyre technology

James Long LinkedIn
Facebook_Timeline_images_no more mudguards


“The project investigates how a bicycle tyre can be redesigned to reduce the amount of spray created whilst cycling in the wet.”

“The project examines the utilisation of hydrophobic materials and distinct surface patterning. The outcome offers potential benefits within both the bicycle and automotive industries, however, the ultimate aim of the project is to improve the convenience and encourage the uptake of cycling.”

James used computer simulation and a testing rig to develop the new tyre design. We’re excited about the potential application of James’ new technology with wheelchair tyres, to keep both the wheelchair user and anyone pushing a wheelchair splash-free!


5. Rethinking the wallet for less nimble fingers

Emily Borton Email LinkedIn


“Nimble Accessories is a range of purses and wallets designed to ease the stresses of shopping for low dexterity suffers. With the accessories designed to reduce the struggle when at the checkout, with simplifying access to coins and cards.”

Emily was inspired to create a Nimble Accessories after observing her aunt avoid shops because of worries about her ability to pay the cashier.

“Simple tasks, such as handing money over to the cashier, became stressful and she got very flustered. My aunt would rather ask family and friends around her to go to the counter to pay instead of facing it herself. It even came to the point of turning away from shops so she wouldn’t have to be seen or judged for her struggles by members of the public around her. ”


6. Improving intimate occasions for ostomates

Stephanie Monty Email LinkedIn
Facebook_Timeline_images_Ostomy Cover


“This new appliance is designed for both men and women in intimate occasions. Users can choose from a range of embossed designs inspired by tattoos, lingerie and body art, whilst the unique manufacturing process means it can be personalised according to the individual’s medical requirements.”

Stephanie Monty was inspired to tackle this challenge by her family’s own experiences living with Crohn’s Disease.

“This appliance empowers people to feel more confident with their body and provides some freedom from an ostomy pouch. There are over 120,000 ostomates in the UK alone and despite a wide range of highly advanced appliances, outstanding issues with their functionality and especially their aesthetics merely compound the social stigma surrounding this subject.”


7. Timekeeping and navigation for people with visual impairments

Tom Yates Email Website
“Orbit is the world’s most inclusive watch. The product communicates time to all sighted, partially sighted and totally blind individuals.”

Tom’s design addresses the challenges navigating the built environment faced by many with visual impairments, especially in new and unfamiliar environments. The watch is designed for people with visual impairments but could prove useful for others, secretive time-check in a meeting anyone?!

“A unique feature of the product is the built in tactile compass, making Orbit the first watch to deliver a compass bearing through the medium of sensory touch.”

HEAL- An intelligent aid to assist healing of fractures

Emily McNamara Email


“HEAL uses smart technology to enable swifter healing. Patients wear the device during any time they are mobile. When a patient lowers their foot and puts weight on their injured leg, this weight is detected. This triggers a vibration within the device which acts as a signal to relieve the weight from the foot.”

Emily’s design is intended to create a better relationship between patients and staff, empowering patients to take control of their care and reducing the need for staff to remind patients not to bear weight on an injured leg.

“By trusting the patients to remove and put on the product themselves, staff allow patients to take an active role in their own care; returning to them some of their lost independence.”


We’re inspired by each of these innovative disability designs, if you are too please let us know in the comments!

opening sports cap drinks

April 20, 2016 in Challenge, Post

Do you have a special technique to open pesky sports cap drinks?

Hair washing fix

April 20, 2016 in Post

Originally posted here

Bend a washing up brush (the kind with a foam pad and reservoir for the washing up liquid) and fill with shampoo and water mix for an easier hair washing experience.

Washing_up Brish_hair_washer

Spray bottle fix

April 19, 2016 in Post, Solution

Originally posted here

Make spray bottles easier to use with a pair of scissor action salad tongs. This sounds like a great fix for people with arthritis, reduced grip strength or cerebral palsy who want to get involved with the household chores! Why not try it on some spray window cleaner?

Use a hacksaw to chop off the handle, and some hot glue or tape to attach it to the spray trigger.


Sugru tactile buttons

April 19, 2016 in Post, Solution

Originally posted here

A great fix for increasing independence – use small Sugru sausages to stick on buttons so someone with a visual impairment can find the button they want.

Here’s a microwave that’s been hacked with Sugru!


Easy grip pop bottle opener

April 19, 2016 in Post, Solution

Originally posted here

A quick 3D printing project that will easily fit in your pocket or bag for use out and about!

Great for anyone with reduced grip strength or arthritis, and anyone who has to battle with tricky bottle tops.



Download 3D printer files

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