Label Maker with a Braille input allows visually-impaired to print tactile touch-friendly labels

Here’s a design exercise that I think can really help develop your skills – take a product and see if it’s disability-proof. If it isn’t, you’ve got yourself a rather nifty design brief! Take, for instance, the label maker – a pretty useful product… as long as you can see and read. To overcome this accessibility gap, the Braille Label Maker allows you to print labels in braille that the visually impaired can touch to read. The device sports an easy-to-use, non-cluttered design language, with concave recessed buttons that let you intuitively use the label maker without looking at it. The buttons on the label maker help navigate the relatively clean interface, and the labels can either be composed on the device itself or via a smartphone app using the special visually-impaired accessibility keyboard. Once the text is ready, the label maker prints it out on a special adhesive-backed Braille-friendly paper that lets you read the label by running your fingers across. Sure, the Braille Label Maker serves a very niche audience, but it’s an important one nonetheless.

The Braille Label Maker’s most significant feature has to be its incredibly clean design. Curved surfaces make it easy and comfortable to hold, a hood on the top holds the roll of paper, and a minimal keyboard with Braille markings and concave keycaps makes it easy to type with minimal error. Even though its wonderful black and orange design is the kind that your eyes instantly fall in love with, designer Isaac Chan was clever enough to focus primarily on making something the hands will love first, and the eyes later. The label maker finally sports a connector-pin-based charging port at the bottom that presumably uses a MagSafe-style cable, making it all the better for the blind to use!

Designer: Isaac Chan

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This shoe combines a shoehorn with a swivel mechanism to make putting on shoes easier for everyone

Prima is an inclusive shoe design that combines a swivel mechanism with a shoehorn to allow users of varying cognitive and motor levels to put on and wear their shoes with ease.

Sometimes the most innovative solutions come from the simplest of designs. Most of us wear shoes every single day. They’re the last thing we put on as we’re leaving the house and we bring them everywhere we go. While many of us put on and wear shoes without even thinking about it, not everyone shares the same experience.

Designer: Jean-Michel Rochette

While it might seem that shoes are one size fits all, for those with degenerative joint disease or arthritis, putting on shoes first thing in the morning comes with a share of difficulties. To help solve this issue, designer Jean-Michel Rochette developed Prima, a type of shoe designed for older folks and those living with joint pain to put on and wear with ease.


Putting on your own shoes and tying them takes a lot of cognitive and physical effort. For people living with cognitive disorders and atypical motor tendencies, putting on shoes marks the first uphill battle of the day. Rochette conducted periods of research and prototyping to find Prima’s final form.

Prima is a comfortable, no-lace, slip-on shoe that integrates a swivel mechanism into an embedded shoehorn to allow users to easily put on and wear their shoes. The shoe features elastic bands that connect the front of the shoe with the rear, allowing users to use their free foot to tilt one Prima shoe upwards and slip their other foot into its inside.

Noticing today’s footwear industry’s trend towards mass consumption, Rochette aimed to create a shoe that fits a market current footwear brands don’t serve. Prima combines a swivel mechanism with the build of a shoehorn to turn every shoe into a slip-on.

Describing Prima in his own words, Rochette notes, “The Prima shoe allows its user to quickly put on and take off their feet without having to bend or perform any manipulations thanks to the swivel mechanism located at the back of the shoe. It eliminates physical pain and discomfort caused by different situations such as waiting and needing assistance.”


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These headphones and mouthpiece rely on bone conduction to transmit audio from your bones to your inner ear!

Bit-N Music is an audio project that aims to find a new way of experiencing music for the hearing impaired community through the use of bone conduction.

Bone conduction is the transmittance of sound to the inner ear through the bones of the skull. It’s one reason we cringe when we hear our own voices played back on recorded audio. Since bones conduct lower frequencies than air, when we listen to recordings, our voices might sound higher than we expect. Relied on by the hearing impaired community and musicians among others, bone conduction speakers are even used by scuba divers and some hearing aids also employ bone conduction. Using bone conduction to create a set of audio wear specifically for the hearing impaired community, designer Noelia Martin crafted Bit-N Music, “a project that seeks to find a new way of experiencing music.”

Initially constructed as a prototype, Bit-N Music is comprised of three components: a pair of headphones, a mouthpiece, and a connector jack. During the prototype phase, Martin invited peers to test the bone conductive audio wear, asking them to listen to music while biting down on the mouthpiece. Describing the process of bone conduction for her specific design, Martin notes, “Once your teeth make contact with the prototype, they conduct the sound through the skull and reach the auditory nerve directly, thus making it possible to hear what is being emitted by the chosen device.”

“Designed for people with conductive, mixed or unilateral hearing problems (isolating sensorineural dysfunctions),” Martin’s experimental project provides an auditory product that relies first and foremost on our bodies and their natural adaptability to produce quality sound that resonates with the inner ear. This inclusive design replaces the role of our eardrums with bone conduction to generate, “a space for dialogue between music and people with different hearing conditions. A place where two different realities coexist, but with similar experiments.”

Designer: Noelia Martin

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Emojis for the blind? A type designer is meticulously translating popular emojis into Braille

While the idea of emojis was originally to promote visual texting, its drawback remains the fact that its visual nature makes it inaccessible to the vision impaired. To help overcome this barrier, type designer and PhD student at Belgium’s MAD School of Arts, Walda Verbaenen took it upon herself to redesign popular emoticons in Braille. The project, titled “Braille Emoticons” proposes the addition of 22 different symbols or emojis to the Braille alphabet, comprising everything from the various smileys to thumbs up and thumbs down, and even the heart emoji.

“People who use Braille are forced to use the letters of the alphabet to describe their emotions”, Walda mentions. “This became a starting point to design an addition to the Braille alphabet, based on our visualized emotions into emoticons, converted into the ‘dot’ language that characterizes Braille.” To ensure it doesn’t conflict with the traditional braille alphabet of a grid of 12 dots, the emoticon addition to the Braille alphabet was developed in a grid of 9 dots, fitting well with the square structure of the emoticon symbols.

Designer: Walda Verbaenen

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This 3D-printed prosthesis helped a dog who couldn’t walk for over 7 years, to run!

This dog-friendly prosthesis prototype was 3D-printed and designed for a dog who previously couldn’t run for over seven years.

While dogs are some of the most resilient and adaptable creatures around, human-designed products aid them through life challenges like arthritis and missing limbs. When joints and ligaments break down in humans, we have braces and slings that can be picked up from our local pharmacy, making the day-to-day a little easier. Bringing that medical attention into the realm of doggos, Printthinks designed and 3D-printed two prototypes of prostheses for dogs who might need some extra help walking and running.


Inspired by a dog who couldn’t run for over seven years due to a missing leg, Printthinks committed to research and design study periods that led to the creation of their 3D-printed prosthesis prototype. Printed from a material called PETG and solely recycled materials, Printthinks created a solution that’s both eco-conscious and pet-friendly.

The sole, for instance, is cut and printed from a recycled bicycle wheel, guaranteeing maximum grip and secure footing. Describing the print process and the materials used during it, Printthinks notes, “The piece is printed on an Ultimate3 at a layer height of 0.3 mm and the other materials are nylon, rubber, and sewing thread.”

While everyone wants their products to look good, thoughtful design boils down to the tangible contributions it brings to the world. In designing their dog-friendly prosthesis, Printthinks set out to change the life of a dog who couldn’t run, let alone walk, for over seven years. Once the initial prosthesis prototype was printed, Printthinks saw their contribution running on all four legs and looking good while doing it.

Designer: Printthinks

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This inclusive computer mouse redefines the gadget’s design by working using the wrist, no fingers needed!

Allin is an inclusive, barrier-free mouse that was designed to be ergonomic specifically catering to the needs of amputees and those who struggle to use computer mouses.

Most of us are working on our laptops or desktops for the entire workday, but not without consequence. From our eyes to our wrists, from our posture to our bums, we go through physical strain every day just by sitting at our desks and staring at our computer screens while endlessly typing.

Providing their own solution to one part of this daily struggle, Designer Dot conceptualized Allin, an ergonomic mouse designed specifically for amputees and others who have trouble operating desktop and laptop mouses.

Constructed with a curved design, Allin features a soft impression where users can place their wrists to access the mouse’s control functions. Replacing the right and left click buttons with right and left tilt buttons, users simply lean their wrists to one side or the other to click links on their computer screens.

The mouse tilt buttons are positioned at different angles to ensure that the intended button is clicked. The left tilt button clicks at approximately 45 degrees while the right tilt button can be clicked at 20 degrees. Wireless by design, Allin comes with an accompanying magnetic charger that provides the mouse with enough charge to last through the workday.

Primarily designed for amputees and for those who struggle to use computer desktop and laptop mouses, Allin is ergonomically designed to fit every human’s natural wrist movement. Allin is a supplemental computer accessory that can be partnered with any laptop or desktop computer to ease the physical strain that comes with working at a keyboard all day.

Designer: Designer Dot

The magnetic charger provides Allin with the battery necessary for its wireless function.

Embedded technology reconceptualizes the inner workings of traditional computer mouses.

With a minimal outer surface, Allin can adapt to any brand of computer or laptop.

Allin is envisioned in matte black, off-white, blush pink, and lemon yellow.

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How does a deaf or mute person use a smart speaker’s voice assistant? This concept tries to build a more inclusive smart speaker

Here’s a question nobody probably ever thought of… how do deaf and mute people communicate with voice assistants? Or specifically, with smart speakers? It’s a question that Jinni, a sign-language-based smart assistant, hopes to answer.

While the most obvious use for a smart speaker is to listen to music and podcasts, the ubiquitous little gadget has much more far-reaching features, allowing users to ask questions, get alerts and weather updates, and most importantly, control aspects of one’s smart home, like the lights, thermostat, security cameras, etc… so when the smart speaker almost solely works on voice commands, its interface practically alienates an entire group of people with special needs who don’t rely on voice commands.

Designed to include a camera that can read sign language inputs, and a large screen that can communicate with its user, Jinni brings the power of virtual assistants to a subset of people that are often sidelined when designing mainstream tech. Relying on visual cues instead of audio ones, the Jinni can easily interface with people fluent in sign language, offering a more natural input technique for them. Responses are provided through Jinni’s large circular screen, taking audio entirely out of the equation. Just as the smart speaker is a ubiquitous little gadget in homes, Jinni hopes to do the same for the deaf and mute communities, giving them the same access to life-changing tech. The speaker concept runs on a battery (so it can be carried to different rooms) and even comes with a charging dock/mat to juice it up after a day’s use.

The Jinni is a winner of the Red Dot Design Concept Award for the year 2021.

Designer: Zhong Zuozheng

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This foldable wheelchair has a concealed seat to help the wheelchair pusher rest

A mindfully designed wheelchair that focuses on the wheelchair pusher’s comfort and makes for modular seating in the design itself is ideal for constricted spaces.

Wheelchair designs have gone through various forms in the past, helping the differently-abled to maneuver with a sense of ease and slight independence. While some designs have been outrightly great, others are there just for the face value. The ACCOMPANYING Wheelchair is from the former category as it does away with certain concerns other wheelchairs present. While the space-saving design is quite simple, the wheelchair addresses a very basic problem others have seemed to miss.

The wheelchair is designed with two people in mind: the wheelchair-bound and the pusher, who has to ferry the patient around all day long and in the process can get tired to bits. The idea is to have sitting space for the wheelchair pusher – when and wherever he/she desires. Moreover, the wheelchair-bound can get a comforting companion right by their side. So, where does the sitting space come about? It’s fitted right inside the wheelchair, under the seating area. That’s ingenious, isn’t it? The idea is still in the concept stage and is ideated by C60Design in partnership with Shenzhen OM Design. The creation’s principal idea is taken forward by Chu Wenbao, the lead designer at the China-based company.

This cushioned platform is pulled out from the side and rests on robust metal support which provides much-needed rest for the companion. Especially useful in hospitals or other spaces where seating space is not always a luxury. What’s more, the backrest folds when not in use, for easy storage and maneuverability!

Designer: C60Design

The Chess board get a portable and inclusive redesign with this paper-based game redesign!

Go Chess or ‘Weiqi’ is a strategic board game that is immensely popular in many East Asian countries, especially China. It’s an intriguing two-player game, wherein both the players attempt to capture and surround more territory than their opponent. However, the traditional game set is often ergonomically difficult to handle. The playing pieces or ‘stones’ are heavy and quite tough to carry and also tend to shift around during the game. Not to mention, it isn’t the easiest game for a blind person to play! Taking all these strenuous factors into consideration, designers Cheng Ka Wing Kavieng, Wei Ruo, Mak Ming Huen, and Wong Cheuk Laam created ‘Poppu’.

Poppu is a portable and tactile Go game that’s set on paper! Inspired by the Kirigami carvings, which is a variation of Origami that includes paper-cutting, Poppu replaces the traditional board and stones duo with a foldable piece of paper! This makes it extremely light, and easy to carry around. The paper is embedded with patterns created by die-cutting and letterpress printing. If you press the pattern downwards and pop it – it is considered as a black stone. If you press and pop it upwards – it becomes a white stone! A flat surface indicates empty or captured stones. The clever pattern system completely eliminates the need for heavy stones. The tactile nature of Poppu makes it super friendly for blind players as well!

Poppu is a light, portable and economical alternative to the traditional Go sets. Not to mention, it’s also inclusive and vision-loss friendly. Plus the fact that it’s crafted from paper also makes it sustainable and recyclable. Products like Poppu could be the future of board games. We can finally cut down on the conventional and expensive game sets that have been around for ages galore, and instead, opt for simpler and pocket-friendly options like Poppu!

Designer: Cheng Ka Wing Kavieng, Wei Ruo, Mak Ming Huen, and Wong Cheuk Laam


Disability-friendly Aircraft seat design by PriestmanGoode folds up to fit a wheelchair in its place

Design Studio PriestmanGoode, along with Flying Disabled and SWS Certification, has unveiled Air 4 All, a system that aims to revolutionize and democratize air travel for passengers with reduced mobility (PRM) by enabling powered wheelchair users to remain in their own wheelchair for the entire air journey. The aircraft seat features a folding design that allows the seat to conceal itself within the backrest, while a rail and lock on the floor lets powered wheelchairs slide in and lock into place, fitting in the area where the seat once was. The launch coincides with the 35th anniversary of the Air Carriers Access Act, passed by US Congress in 1986 to guarantee that people with disabilities would receive consistent and nondiscriminatory treatment when traveling by air.

Designer: PriestmanGoode for Flying Disabled and SWS Certification

PriestmanGoode mentions that the Air 4 All system is designed to be compatible with a wide range of airline seats and powered wheelchair types. Currently, the system has been designed keeping the narrowbody 2+2 configuration in mind, giving flights the ability to convert front row seats and install a wheelchair guidance and locking system to the aircraft. This configuration allows for up to two wheelchairs per row to travel on a single flight. A consortium formed by PriestmanGoodde, Flying Disabled, and SWS Certification will also be working alongside Sunrise Medical to establish those powerchairs that would be fit to fly, as well as to retrofit and create new standards for powered wheelchairs, thus enabling passengers with the most challenging disabilities to travel. Chris Wood MBE, Founder of Flying Disabled mentioned that “Air 4 All is the first system that has been developed jointly by a design agency, a certification body and with input from the disabled community. With a leading global wheelchair manufacturer as well as the subsidiary of a major airline on board to develop the product, it’s a truly collaborative project.”

In a press release, Paul Priestman, designer and Chairman of PriestmanGoode said “Air 4 All will usher in a step-change in the industry and finally offer equal access to comfort, safety, and dignity for all passengers. The biggest barrier in the past has been that giving greater space to passengers in wheelchairs would have reduced seat count and resulted in a loss of revenue for airlines. Air 4 All solves this problem and has the added benefit of enabling airlines to retain the design of their cabin on every seat, ensuring brand consistency and a cohesive brand experience for all passengers. Air 4 All will facilitate a smoother boarding and disembarking experience for PRMs and will also significantly reduce the number of wheelchairs that are damaged through poor handling.”

The Air 4 All seating system forms just one of many innovations by PriestmanGoode in the aviation industry. In 2019, the studio unveiled an eco-friendly in-flight meal tray made from non-plastic elements that were “either partially edible, reusable, soluble or biodegradable.” The studio has also extensively worked with Airbus as strategic design and innovation partners for over 20 years.

The Air 4 All has been granted a patent, and the first prototype of the Air 4 All system is expected in December 2021. The patent covers all types of wheelchairs across every mode of public transport. The consortium is looking for partners across the transport sector to develop the system for other modes of travel like rail and metro.

Designer: PriestmanGoode for Flying Disabled and SWS Certification