Friday, November 12, 2010

Beauty, not Punishment -- Can a Tool for People with Disabilities be an Accessory?

Last night I went to a presentation on tools designed for use by people with various disabilities. Some of the tools caught my attention for their total ugliness. They were "flesh" colored, meaning that they really looked cadaverous. In addition to the color, the materials used compounded the sense that these devices are perpetually dirty (see the top and middle photos).

I had a slight panic attack. Should I be disabled, would I need to use such confusing, binding, and ugly tools? Wouldn't it feel like a punishment to use them? They seemed like torture devices, not helping ones.

These products should have fun, color, and clarity. If possible, make these things simple to use and joyful, if not outright beautiful.
They should help turn the disability, as much as possible, into an advantage.

An example is a plastic trowel that was part of the same presentation (see bottom photo): It is colorful and has a playful (in addition to useful) shape. Outside of the presentation, we see people who have no need for them wearing attractive and attracting glasses. Another example of turning injury into a fashion advantage is in bandages marketed for children. They are now available in various colors or with cartoon characters. ¡Que viva Dora la Exploradora!


  1. I love the point you make about people who don't need glasses wearing them as fashion accessories. It's a phenomenon worth taking seriously as we move forward. Thanks for this post and the inspiration to re-think these products.

  2. We are now manufacturing new patented assistive devices that will reduce pain on users’ wrist, arm, and back significantly when they use everyday household tool for cleaning, gardening, and sporting.

    Product is called InLine RoboHandle and it is Made in USA.

    Please visit Ergonomic Tools Inc.

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