Last week NESTA and the Office for Disability Issues (ODI) launched the Inclusive Technology Prize – an initiative to encourage co-creation between disabled people and designers to find innovative products and technologies that would enhance the lives of disabled people, their families, friends and carers.
The event launch took place at NESTA’s office in central London and was well attended by representatives from various disability charities. Several people spoke at the event including Jess Thom a writer, communicator with Tourette’s, David Constantine MBE from Motivation and Pat Russell from the ODI.
Disabled people make up a significant percentage of the UK population with 1 in 5 people being registered disabled. Similarly it is estimated that the spending power of disabled people- the purple pound- is worth approximately £212 billion. However despite these numbers, disabled people often face numerous barriers to fully participating in public life. For example, disabled people often have to spend much more for ‘inclusive’ household items than their non-disabled counterparts which are, at times, unreliable and unattractive.
Jess Thom of Tourette’s Hero said that assistive technologies specifically for disabled people were ‘often expensive, poorly designed and ugly’ and that she hoped the competition will bring about ‘new ideas and creative, stylish solutions’.
A common theme which emerged throughout the event was perfectly encapsulated by one speaker who remarked’ if we make technology that supports disabled people then surely everyone benefits?’
The competition is seeking innovations that enhance the lives of disabled people in all areas of their lives such as education, home, work and leisure. The prize will run in several stages and closes in March 2016.
You can find out more about the prize here