We are lucky enough to work and collaborate with some fantastic community led projects and charities here in Bath. We are soon completing the Bath Dragon Boat Race, organised and led by Designability, who are raising funds for the Wizzybug Loan Scheme. This scheme provides fun, powered wheelchairs to children under 5 with a disability, completely free of charge.
We have been inspired by the way Designablity takes complex problems and finds ingenious solutions. We recently spoke to the charity, and asked them a little bit more about the work they do and what they’re aiming to achieve in their Whizzybug project.
Of course, all of this takes skill but also a fair share of funding. Read Designability’s story below, and if you have been inspired to help us reach our fundraising target, please support us on our JustGiving page.
Who are Designability and what are the main goals of the project?
Designability is a Bath-based national charity that creates life-changing products for people of all ages who are living with a disability.
Established in 1968; we design assistive technology that supports people to have greater independence, dignity, confidence and happiness every day.
We work with end-users, carers and healthcare professionals to help us understand the problem, find a solution and test it in real life situations.
We are lucky enough to have an experienced team of designers, engineers, technicians and occupational therapists all under one roof to respond to new product ideas.
How important is product development in improving the lives of those with disability?
Across the UK, there are thousands of people living with a disability who face challenges. Most of us do not realise that we are relying on assistive technology to help us, whether or not we have a disability.
A well-designed product could be the difference between a person being able to live the life they choose or struggling to carry out certain tasks or hobbies. From simple products that enable someone to continue to enjoy music, to a bespoke shower trolley which allows a lady with brittle bone disease to shower with comfort and dignity.
Human-centred design is at the heart of all that we do. We listen carefully to people’s experiences and views in order to develop a solution to the problems that they face.
As we design, we look at how we work and who we help to develop new products in response to specific needs.
How are you funded, and what fundraising projects do you carry out?
As a registered charity and company limited by guarantee, we are funded by three main income streams:
Charitable donations – we receive donations from charitable trusts, corporate organisations and individuals.
Research grants – we receive research grants from government-funded research councils.
Commercial income – we receive small royalties from product sales and consultancy services which help us to continue our new not-for-profit projects.
A big part of donations comes from community fundraising, which is why events like the Bath Dragon Boat Race are so important to us. The strength and passion of fundraisers helps to raise much needed funds as well as generating lots more awareness for our cause.
How do the products you research make a difference?
The feedback that we receive from the people that we help shows the impact that our products can make on people’s lives.
One of our most well-known and loved products is the Wizzybug powered wheelchair which we loan out free of charge to disabled children under 5. Wizzybugs give children with conditions such as cerebral palsy, spina bifida and spinal muscular atrophy the chance to experience their first set of wheels. Through Wizzy, they experience independence, mobility, freedom and play.
The testimonials we get back from families speak for themselves:
“Our son was lucky enough to have collected his Wizzybug last week. My eyes teared up seeing our son move for the first time in his Wizzybug - it’s given him freedom for the first time in almost 2 years, to be able to chase his big sisters, and even collect them from school where they were so proud to show him off!”
“I was overwhelmed when I first saw him move unaided. It was awesome that he could get to places he wanted to. He loves to play hide and seek and pretends to go to the shop to buy things in it!”
“His muscles are deteriorating overtime, and we want him to enjoy his time to the fullest. Wizzybug really makes Ali a happier toddler when he's out and about.”
“This is the first time Sebby has had the independence to go where he wants to, and he's so happy about it. We went for a walk in a local wood with paths and we hardly walked any distance as Sebby was darting around everywhere and chuckling constantly.”
What’s the future for Designability? Any exciting products in the pipeline?
As we enter into our 50th anniversary year, we are looking to reach more people whose lives could be transformed by assistive technology.
At the moment, we have several new products on the horizon which include:
· a task-prompting app for people living with dementia,
· a dynamic seating system for young children with dystonic cerebral palsy,
· a new and improved design of our wheelchair baby carrier.