Universal Parenting Product Design is a topic I've wanted to expand on since I was a college design student. I've always had the notion that if a product is designed well to help someone with a particular disability, it can help those with no disability. And when it comes to parenting, everyone could use an extra hand, literally.
Since the launch of this challenge I've been hesitant to share some of my design ideas. Partly because universal product design doesn't necessarily lend itself to the specifics of this challenge, and partly because there is no longer any legal protection to publicly display an idea that isn't patented. But I want to change the world. A lofty idea simply stated, but it's true. And to change the world you need help, so I hope IDEO, Sutter Health and UBC likes what I'm sharing!
There is a design gap in parenting products for the atypical parent or child. Yet, it is human nature to procreate, and most due, despite their exceptional status. Having peace of mind that there is something out there to help you get through the beginning years of parenting with a handicap could be huge!
Many handicap products are unattractive and advertise the disability. These products are frequently designed by the doctor or therapist helping the patients and are rarely well funded. I think there is a sense that if you're suffering from a handicap, that you should be grateful for what you haven't loss; you know, look on the bright side! But that's nonsense. Those that are handicap or suffering from a chronic disease deserve and want beautiful, trendy designs just like the rest of us. The product ideas that I'm sharing are specifically for helping an upper-extremity handicap; for example a loss of an arm or hand (meningitis, combat, accident) or severe arthritis (aging population, severe rheumatoid arthritis), so it's just the tip of the iceberg. However, the concept I hope to get across is the need for universal parenting product design and the interesting and helpful ideas that can be properly created if design research funding was provided.
This research can help address where the need is the greatest and for whom. This can include those with physical disabilities, along with mental - including PTSD and post-partum depression.
The conceptual products shown were designed by addressing how one without the use of a limb or hand might preform a standard parenting task; for example changing a diaper, transporting a child or giving a bath, without loosing a sense of control, enjoyment or independence.