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Design for Independence: Developing Assistive Products for Disabled People

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Designer crouched by a family with daughter in wheelchair holding switch toy

Date: Wednesday 27th November 2019

Date: Wednesday 27th November 2019

Location: East Building, University of Bath, Claverton Down BA2 7AY

Time: 6.30pm

An insightful talk by designer Ross Atkin who recently appeared on the BBC's The Big Life Fix.

About this event

Join us for Designability’s 51st free annual lecture which will include a talk and presentation by researcher, designer and engineer Ross Atkin.

Ross will talk about his experiences developing high-tech assistive products in partnership with disabled people, both as part of the BBC TV programmeThe Big Life Fix’ and in his own design practice with organisations like Transport for London, Stannah and TFH Sensory Toys.

He will look at the similarities and differences between designing for one person and developing assistive products for mass production by sharing key examples of how social model thinking can be translated into concrete design action.

Ross will also explore the many opportunities for digital technology to make assistive technology work better for users.

About Ross

Ross Atkin stood smiling at the cameraRoss Atkin is a designer and engineer based in Hackney, East London, where he runs his own design and development practice. He is interested in older and disabled people, digital technology and public space and works on projects that combine at least two of these areas.

Ross has worked on a wide variety of products, from responsive street furniture, through to app ‘ButtonBot’ which enables children [including Ayala, pictured] to operate a switch-controlled toy robot.

He believes that there is a very powerful idea called The Social Model of Disability, which holds that disabled people are disabled by their environments rather than any particular variation in their capabilities.

Whilst research is core to his practice, he prioritises projects that are close to production/implementation over those that are more conceptual or speculative. He tries to work with clients that share this point of view including well established UK manufacturing companies such as Stannah and Marshalls as well as charities like Scope, and government bodies like the Royal Borough of Greenwich and TfL. He pulls together a network of software engineers, graphic designers, researchers and film makers to deliver design-focused research and products that straddle the digital/physical divide and solve actual problems.

Ross recently won the Emerging Design Medal 2019 for his work designing technology products for people with disabilities.

Schedule for the evening

  • 5.00 – 6.30pm // Design Showcase: If you would like to meet the design and engineering team from Designability, please join us a little earlier to discover the latest projects we are working on to benefit people living with disabilities and long-term health conditions.
  • 6.30pm // Arrival Drinks Reception: Enjoy drinks and canapés and networking opportunities before the talk begins.
  • 7.00pm // Talk from Ross Atkin
  • 7:45pm // Q & A: An opportunity to ask Ross any questions about his work and experiences.
  • 8:00pm // Event closes.

Join in the conversation:


Use hashtag #design51

This event is kindly supported by:

Irwin Mitchell and University of Bath logos