- Sixth Form
Sofia, Year 12, has reflected on her first term studying Design and Technology: Product Design.
"This term I have gained an increased understanding of the breadth of the subject Product Design. From the application of mathematics to the unexpected results from casting concrete, the hand-drawn graphic approaches to computer-aided design software such as Google SketchUp. To me, it is the topic of inclusive design that has really ignited my vision for the subject. It is necessary that designers include everyone within their designs, but so many products do not cater for those who are elderly or disabled. However, many products have been adapted to meet the requirement of people with different needs. For example, disabled people who carry out sport need wheelchairs which are lightweight and manoeuvrable. Another example is those who suffer with arthritis regularly struggle to use buttons, so the clothing industry has used Velcro as an alternative for fastenings. As well as this tap levers have been made to aid the opening and closing of taps. Not only for those who suffer from arthritis but also stroke victims. However, these changes don’t just operate for those with disabilities, it can also benefit general users.
Discovering this I looked into a designer whose work is a strong example of inclusivity. I found a Singaporean industrial designer named, Loren Lim. He created a range of products which show off his interest in the understanding of human behaviour and designing for social good. An example of one of his products is ‘Oneware’. It is a unit which supports someone with only one functioning arm to assist them when doing jobs in the kitchen from cleaning to cutting up food. Below is a photograph of this product and right is a photograph of me exploring the smart material POLYMORPH to design an ergonomic grip to cutlery. Polymorph is a thermoplastic that melts under hot water at 62 degrees C and can be moulded at room temperature. This allows me to confirm a client-specific grip to products that may otherwise be challenging to hold.
Not only do product designers have to account for those with disability’s but so do architects. It is a legal requirement for public buildings such as schools, hospitals etc, to ensure they have access and facilities for disabled people. So, as lockdown is easing the use of public building increases. This is an opportunity for you to notice how well buildings around you ensure they are inclusive of everyone. Here is a checklist of things to look out for:
- Are there clearly marked disabled parking spaces near the entrance?
- Are there wide enough car parking spaces to allow wheelchair users to get in and out of the car?
- Is there a ramp if the entrance is on a different level?
- Is the door easy to open or automatic?
- Are disabled toilets provided?
- Is the level of the sink at wheelchair height?
- Do the taps have lever attachments to make it easier to turn them on and off?
- Are there lifts available - are the doors wide enough for a wheelchair? Are there handrails fitted inside to provide steady movement?
- Are the buttons inside easily accessible? Are they illuminated for indication to the deaf?
In addition to this checklist, I will be revealing the results of the first design challenge this academic year in Design and Technology. This will be completed by Year 9 and we are really looking forward to sharing these with our wider community in order to raise awareness."