Stiletto and wheels Stiletto title Sole to sole Stiletto

STILETTO – a high pointed HEEL on a woman’s shoe or a small dagger.

WHEELS – a medieval instrument of torture or a vehicle for personal mobility. title
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Enabled by Design is a:

‘recently established site, set up to share ideas about cool, well-designed equipment and products which people with disabilities like … hate …’

Good luck

Interested? Well, yes, I am. As would anyone be who has wondered why so much of the product offer available to those of us with ‘special needs’ is so incredibly poorly designed, expensive and ugly. It is easy to drone on about the reasons for this:

  • so much of the purchasing of such products is made, or authorized by, third parties - social services, the NHS, other therapists,
  • who clearly operate within tight budget constraints.
  • allowing little/no priority to aesthetics in decision-making, and,
  • who have a ‘one size fits all’ mentality towards functionality.

A wheelchair is a wheelchair, right? So, even if your hands and arms do not function, you get a self propelling wheelchair because ‘that’s what they do’ and probably in purple with yellow spots because …why would you care about the colour?!

Sadly, many users put up with shortcomings in service and product because we need public service financing; we are in shock at what has happened to us; this is an unfamiliar market to us; and we are unsure of our own needs and what is available.

There is little impetus for change from large manufacturers who are used to dealing with bureaucratic public services and not personally demanding private consumers. This means that, currently, two sets of people, neither the ultimate user, decide what users will get and at what cost...not a great recipe for producing functional, well-designed equipment at a competitive price appropriate to each individual!

Given the existence of the monopolistic public services, the private consumer market in disability products is, relatively, small in the UK and has little influence over the product offer.  Where good quality, well designed products are offered, prices tend to be very high as there is little/no competition between manufacturers for such low-volume, product differentiated and, in their view, more difficult business. I cannot describe how shocked I was to discover that a really good comfortable wheelchair, not available with public service financing, retails at up to £15k or more; a WAV, with a base car cost of £20k, may retail at over £43k in its adapted condition!

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