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Collaborate with CSM students to design a better wheelchair experience.

aepclark Member Posts: 3 Listener
edited January 2017 in Research and opportunities

Hi there!

I am a product design student at Central Saint Martins currently working on a project to improve the experience of people using a wheelchair. I would love to hear your opinions on what needs to be improved for wheelchair users as well as any stories you may have relating to issues you have come across personally or observed in public. My aim is to spark conversation in the community to identify situations which could be improved through design.

I look forward to reading your replies!

Alex Clark


  • Alex
    Alex Scope Posts: 1,305 Pioneering
    Hi Alex, 

    Welcome to the community. Could you be a bit more specific? What would you like to improve - the look, size, cost, comfort, mobility, weight?

    We have many wheelchair users on the community.

    You might be interested in reading this thread where people discuss their wheelchairs:


  • aepclark
    aepclark Member Posts: 3 Listener
    Hi Alex,

    I'm glad I found the community, there's a lot of great stuff being discussed here. The link you provided is very interesting! 

    I live in London, so have been thinking about how to improve mobility in pre-existing environments. That would depend heavily on weight, size and manoeuvreability I assume. 

    I am also interested in trying to address the social stigma attached to being in a wheelchair. I have seen articles about this subject recently which are quite distressing, and I would really appreciate some input from people who feel vulnerable or stigmatised in this way to help me think of ways to address the problem. Similarly, positive experiences would be great to hear too! The changes in attitude towards prosthetics that have taken place in response to the Paralympics and incredible technological advances have been inspiring, and cause me to question why the same could not happen with wheelchairs!

    It would be great to hear what people think! 
  • Alex
    Alex Scope Posts: 1,305 Pioneering
    Interesting, thanks!

    @Zec Richardson and @mossycow shared some interesting things here:

    They might be able to help.
  • mossycow
    mossycow Member Posts: 485 Pioneering
    Hello! I have been using a wheelchair for about 3 years, using a manual chair and in November I started using a power chair.

    Just the difference a wheelchair that fitted right, light weight and as small as possible made such a massive difference. My made to measure NHS chair is soooooooo much better that any I borrowed that weren't made for me. So anything that makes a wheelchair more adaptable is valuable. 

    So the obvious need is for as less weight as possible... and getting them into car (either with person or without person on)

    But my total wish list would be stuff that makes being independent while out and about in my chair easier. I'll make a list of what I wish for when out in either manual or power chair:

    • Warmth.....  def need a big sleeping bag thing that's easy to transfer in and out of, easy to fasten, warm,water proof and totally awesome to wear...perhaps with pockets for personal stuff. But definielty not in NHS mauve....
    • Storage... for shopping etc. Something you could wear at arms reach, not on the back.Like a saddle bag that hangs down sides then you can easily flip it on top your lap for access and if you go into a tight space...... ooh and hen you flip it over onto your lap...the surface is ridgid so you can write, eat, use phone on to of it.
    • Someway of having a grabber stick attached for picking up stuf that evil gravity decides should go on the floor
    • Cup holder.. that is also a phone holder or like a tripod for taking pictures of excited 9 year old...
    • Personalisation for hired chairs. Both mine don't belong to me but i'd love to customise. Perhaps with decals, stuff on spokes, funky fabrics...
    • Portable ramp.... (ok.... I'm in a fantasy world now!!!) that attaches to back and cafe owner can take and pop down at down while you glide into previously inaccessible places...
    • Something that stops strangers from touching my chair, pushing me and getting in my personal space.... adapting a cattle prod perhaps?!?  [not really...]
    Personally, I feel awesome when I'm in my wheelchair. It means freedom, independence, activism for equality and symbolises my personal progress to get back into life.  But I do find it means I am living from my chair and I'd love eating, shopping, writing, using IT, etc to be easier from my seat.
  • mossycow
    mossycow Member Posts: 485 Pioneering
    Also, onmy power chair, having lights like head lights has made a massive difference, especially in tunnels or at night. I dont have them on my manual chair. Is there some way of attaching power to manual chair, light weight but so you could have head lights, charge phone (essential!!!), personalised lights, heated blanket.....

    Listening to 'In Touch' on radio 4 there is a guy tackling abuse against him and his guide dog by attaching a camera to his guide dog. He reckons it has made people's behaviour towards him better but also helped him make a formal complaint when he was treated badly. This could be used as evidence in prosecution ...anyway...not a pleasant thought but perhaps this may be of interest to some chair users too.
  • aepclark
    aepclark Member Posts: 3 Listener
    Thanks for your brilliant input @mossycow!

    It's great to hear that you have been able to start using a power chair. Has it made you life much easier? On what occasions would you still use your manual chair?

    You have some great ideas for storage solutions. It seems silly that many chairs offer little or no space to put things away safely! 

    I am really interested in working on ways to customise hired chairs using modular components which could be fixed on to give added support, cushioning, storage etc. Have you managed to customise your chair in any way to suit you better?

    Thanks again for your response!


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