Designing for the Disabled

Contributors: Dr. Herbert Lowe & Ollie Jones IV

Everyday people living with disabilities live lives of courage, hope and dignity. Along the way, they teach the rest of us the true meaning of grace. 

According to the United Nation human rights office, there are 650 million people around the world living with disabilities; some are very visible and others are less obvious.

For a very long time, persons with disabilities made up the world’s largest and most disadvantaged minority. But thanks to a number of enlightened individuals and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the international community is responding to the long history of discrimination, exclusion, and dehumanization of these people.The purpose of this article is to focus on what has been and is being done in the areas of design to facilitate the disabled individual and how these designs are helpful to the population at large.



THE TREND: Creating Awareness among Designers

The trend in making products – and information – more accessible to those with any kind of disability is gathering momentum. Interestingly, seeking design solutions that meet the needs of the disabled results in a better overall design, benefitting both the able and disabled.

New terminology has been coined to describe inclusive design processes, such as accessible design, barrier-free design and assistive technology. Universal design is a relatively new approach that has emerged from these models and describes the design elements of buildings, products, and environments that allow for the broadest range of users and applications.



Children with disabilities often have far fewer opportunities to play than other children, not only because their abilities are limited but because those limitations are barely, if at all, taken into consideration in play product design. Institutional appearance, high cost and low entertainment value are common drawbacks in products designed only for = children with disabilities. Through programs such as, Let’s Play based at the University of Buffalo (New York), which collaborates with manufacturers to optimize universal features in toy design, children with disabilities can be included in the design process.


By expanding the ability- range of toys to include features that disabled children can master, (known as the from-able-to-disabled universal design approach) more children are able to benefit. On the other hand, the from-disabled-to-able approach can also broaden play options for children without disabilities. Therapeutic toys with greater play possibilities mean children without disabilities can also enjoy the entertaining elements of the toys while working on skill development. The larger production volume from a wider market, which would include all children, could also significantly lower product costs making the toys more affordable.

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When Money Hurts, Literally- The Connection between Stress and Heart Problems


Clinton Gordon (Sales Development Specialist)

Finance related worry can cause undue stress and anxiety on the heart and lead to health issues such as depression and heart diseases. Throughout daily activities, the heart is constantly at work and sometimes takes cues from our actions to supply different areas with vital services. When we think about money, the heart is required to transport chemicals through the blood stream to the brain to help with the decision making processes.

The heart is designed to cope with the transportation of these chemicals, which are mostly triggered by emotions such as stress, fear and anxiety. Despite the heart’s capabilities of supplying these various chemicals to the extremities, it should only do so in short intervals and not on a continued and frequent basis.

At any given time, the body is experiencing some form of stress, whether it is eustress (Eustress means beneficial stress – either psychological, physical (e.g. exercise) or biochemical/radiological (hormesis). The term stress was coined by endocrinologist Hans Selye, consisting of the Greek prefix eu- meaning “good”, and stress, literally meaning “good stress”.), acute stress or chronic stress. Either of these may affect the body and the heart in a positive or negative way. This is evident when money and finances are added to the equation.




Winning the lottery, inheriting money or receiving a huge commission will see the body experiencing acute stress, which is quite prevalent in situations of shock, pressure or anticipated demands. Likewise, thinking about lifestyle conditions and retirement, ascertaining the next tuition or saving to purchase a home or car can trigger eustress, which fuels the drive to work harder and push for a desired outcome. [Whenever your goal is considered or visualized and you get that drive to work at achieving it.] Try not to cross over into episodic stress which is ceaseless worrying, and has been inadvertently linked to coronary heart disease through high blood pressure, diabetes and other health issues.


Chronic stress has developed a reputation of being dangerous and unhealthy, it is brought on by long exposures to negative and worrying factors like poverty, unfulfilled careers, fear of job loss, unproductivity or anxiety brought on by fear of ever present creditors.  The financial fears and anxiety triggered by these responses may also be heightened by the knowledge that careless or reckless money management is the main cause. Chronic stress will remain as long as the financial woes are present. It has  been linked to a coroner’s list of items such as:

  • Heart Disease
  • High Blood pressure
  • High Cholesterol
  • Type ll Diabetes
  • Depression

The taxing effect caused by financial miscues and bad practices can trigger the stressors which lead to myriad health issues including heart disease and ultimately fatal outcomes.

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