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  • Writer's pictureStuart

The creation of "Haccessibility" at The Disability Innovation Camp at Scope

Updated: Dec 11, 2020

(This isn’t meant to be a comprehensive report on the day, just is a collection of thoughts and recollections of our team’s day at the event, and how “Haccessibility was created).

The core theme of the Disability Innovation Camp event on Wednesday 29 January 2014 was "How might disabled people have more control over their money, resources and support?". The idea was to look at challenging questions around disabled people and finance and resources, and how disabled people can live more independent lives and be fully in control of decisions relating to their care and needs.

After some presentation by Penny Sturgess from Scope talking specifically about finance, Denise Stephens from Enabled by Design(@enabledby) and Paul Carter from Little Man Media (@juniorc0) talked about their personal experiences of being challenged by a world not designed for disabled people.

After an empathy exercise to enable us to better understand those challenges we were tasked to come up with twenty quick-fire ideas that could help overcome some of the challenges discussed throughout the day.

Our group consisted of:

  • Caroline Ward, filmmaker and visual artist

  • Erinma Ochu Ochu, Wellcome Trust Engagement Fellow, The University of Manchester (@erinmaochu)

  • Lillian Barton, RSA NW Chair and chartered marketeer (@LilianBarton)

  • Michael Gray, PSLaunchpad Scholar, Commissioner, London Tri-borough (@michaelgray84)

  • Stuart Arnott, PSLaunchpad Accelerator Member from Mindings(@MindingsStu)

Many of the ideas we had were based around home-based challenges, as in our empathy exercise we could appreciate that many challenges were based around the fact that most furniture and domestic appliances had little design consideration for people who are differently able (in fact aesthetic design was often prioritised over practical considerations - creating challenges for disabled and able-bodied alike).

The ideas that we were most drawn to were around the concept of “hacking" - a term often coined by the "Maker" community where domestic objects and consumer appliances objects are altered to give them an alternative use. Some of our team had attended Accessibility "Hackathon" events where over the course of a weekend everyday objects were "hacked" to make them more accessible to people living with disabilities (we were particularly inspired by a kettle that Paul Carter had designed at such an Enabled By Design Hackathon).

We were aware that a community already existed round hacking Ikea furniture ( Being a retailer that manufactured their own furniture, and being a brand that creates “classic” designs that exist for years at a time (rather than a fashion brand that change their product line every season) Ikea are particulars suited to the hacking ideal as the hacks they create have some longevity.

Taking that concept and making it mainstream, we imagined a store where every item that they sold had hacks available - meaning that no longer do people with disabilities have to visit ghetto websites “for the disabled”, but can choose from the full range of products from mainstream retailers and simply have them altered to make them more accessible - just like buying a suit from a shop and having the hem taken up.

We came up with the name “Haccessibility" ("hacking accessibility") and the concept is that a mainstream retailer’s website would have a logo overlaid on an advertised product showing that “a hack is available”.

These hacks would be created by the general public - likely originally by the “Maker” community. These hacks could be in the form of:

  • a set of “blueprints” - ie free, downloadable instructions showing how to hack the item

  • an accessory pack - a Maker can sell the parts needed to make the hack

  • offers to have the hacked item built by a Maker for the purchaser

We envisaged that a cottage industry of Hackers, Makers and craftspeople could evolve to fulfil the demand for these hacked products.

The data we would generate would also allow us to approach manufacturers and retailers and point out the demand that is out there for these hacked products - e.g. the number of page views, downloads and facilitated transactions.

We plotted out the User Journey and designed a mock-up of the website and along with the eight other teams we presented to the judging panel of Denise, Paul and Penny, as well as each other.

We were delighted that both the judges and our fellow event attendees voted “Haccessibility” the best idea of the day!

We look forward to our future discussion with FutureGov and Scope to explore if the concept can be furthered in any way.

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