Supporting Beechen Cliff students to design for disability

A designer guides a student through his prototyping

Last year we supported a group of AS level Design and Technology students to design to support someone living with a specific disability.

Setting a design challenge

Our team were approached to provide feedback to four students from Beechen Cliff School throughout the design development process of their project.

We gladly accepted and invited the students and their teachers to our design offices. Jess introduced them to our work, gave them a quick design challenge to get them thinking about who they are designing for and showed them some of the projects we have been working on recently.

Designing for cleanliness, nutrition and independence

To give the students a true insight into the work we do, we came up with three project briefs to choose from. Each project explored the design of a product to support someone living with a specific disability.

The briefs were:

  1. How could we help enable someone who has have experienced a stroke to wash independently?
  2. How could we support a person living with memory problems, such as dementia, to eat balanced, nutritious meals?
  3. How could we facilitate home-exercise and/or physiotherapy for a person living with arthritis?

Of the four students, we had one student who opted to carry out his own project to support people with lower back injury to sit and sleep comfortably. Each of the other students opted to carry out one of the three briefs.

As part of the research phase we facilitated a meeting with the Stroke Association, where a support worker gave the students an introduction to stroke; what the symptoms often are and the impact this has on a person’s independence and ability to carry out everyday tasks. This session demonstrated to the students how important it is to understand a problem before designing.

The outcomes of the project

With Jess’ support and feedback at various stages, the students created some really great designs and prototypes.

They featured:

  • a beautiful back rest for young males who have experienced lower back injury,
  • a soap dispenser for people who have experienced a stroke,
  • a food-tray which was designed with dementia in mind and
  • a lap-based arm exercise device for progressive training.

We were really impressed with the outcomes. The students were enthusiastic, took the time to understand their end users and translated these insights really effectively, to create some great product designs.

Visit the education page on our website for more ways we work with students to get them thinking about designing for disability.