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Developing a Pushchair for Wheelchair Users

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Person in wheelchair with pushchair attached to carry child

Designability is creating a wheelchair-attachable pushchair to allow parents who are manual wheelchair users the opportunity to take their babies and young children out independently.

Below you can find out more about the project, the latest developments and next steps.

What is needed?

Disabled parents who are wheelchair users have no safe way to get to the shops or the park independently with their young child. There is no widely available pushchair they can use so they are either isolated at home or dependent on a non-disabled partner or carer. This leads to practical difficulties, with them resorting to having their child sitting on their lap, which is often unsafe and uncomfortable.

As well as practical difficulties, disabled parents have spoken about the emotional impact of being reliant on others to go out with their baby or toddler, and that this means they feel a ‘lesser’ parent. As we face the long term consequences from the pandemic of increased isolation and mental health challenges, providing a solution that gives disabled parents independence to lead their best life with their baby and toddler has never been more critical.

Evidence of the need

  • Over 16,000 disabled parents of children aged 0-3 years in the UK are manual wheelchair users
  • Despite global pushchair market being worth around $3billion, there is no widely available pushchair for wheelchair users produced by commercial manufacturers
  • Such a product is Designability’s most popular product enquiry from disabled people looking for a solution
  • Another disability equipment charity Remap also reports the popularity of requests from disabled people, and their volunteer engineers have made a number of one-off products for individuals
  • Feedback from over 60 disabled parents who have taken part in our user engagement groups is that such a product would have changed their experience of parenting as a wheelchair user
  • Despite looking, most parents told us they were not able to find a suitable pushchair for use with a wheelchair.

Background

Although being a parent and a manual wheelchair user is not a unique situation, the level of demand for a pushchair for wheelchair users is currently perceived as too low to be of interest to either commercial wheelchair or baby buggy manufacturers.

Design and development

Having engaged with wheelchair users to discover and explore the key challenges they face when carrying babies, we set about creating and developing concept designs for a prototype product.

We have developed design solutions in terms of the attachment mechanism and the wheel configuration, and have reviewed the standards and regulations that will apply to a new Pushchair for Wheelchair Users.

The valuable input from disabled parents has led to the creation of a fully-working prototype which we were able to test in a series of user engagement trials held throughout the autumn 2021.

Next steps

We are now entering the final phase of product development and user testing and hope to have a finalised design ready later in 2022.

It is anticipated that the product will be available to disabled parents in 2023.