Since Ikea hit the UK it’s become a firm favourite with shoppers for not just its wide range of products but for how affordable they are. Ikea designs can be found in almost every house up and down the country. But if you had a disability, you may not find all of Ikea’s recognisable designs so accessible. To combat this, Ikea has recently taken steps to become more accessible with the development of their new ‘This Ables’ range of accessories designed to increase accessibility for users.
The range is the result of the teaming up of Ikea Israel with the charities, Milbat and Access Israel. Created in response to learning the challenges disabled customers can face when using their Ikea items. Difficulties such as finding the switches on lights being too small to use or the seat of couches being too low for users to get up easily. From this, 13 add-on products were developed. A play on the word ‘disabled’, ‘This Ables’ is small ‘tweaks’ that can be made to existing Ikea products that make a big difference to the users.
The range can be accessed via the website; www.thisables.com where users must download a file and user guide to print the item using 3D printing themselves. Whilst 3D printers may still be unavailable to many households, it’s easy enough to find the facility in most big cities. The technology is becoming much more widespread and the files are completely free to download. And there’s more to come. Ikea is planning to expand the range with new designs to make even more Ikea products accessible.
Each current ‘This Ables’ product has a complimenting Ikea item or range that can be modified. The Mega Switch, for example, is a flat disk that attaches onto the Ranarp lamp and acts like an oversized switch. It allows the user to be able to turn the light on and off without the use of their fingers, useful for amputees or those who have limited dexterity in their hands.
Some of the products make use of technology to make everyday items accessible. The Stuff Reader uses read-aloud technology to help those with a visual impairment know what they have stored in the bookcase. A small plastic device helps position a smart sticker onto an Ikea bookcase. The user can use a scanning pen to read aloud the stickers, allowing the user to gain more independence moving around their home.
With the development of the range and the scope for expansion, there’s hope that it can continue to change lives many more people across the world.