Mealtimes are made easier with a range of small kitchen appliances. But can everyone use them? Meal preparation is something most of us do every day. It’s not until you can’t do it that you realise how much it impacts on wellbeing, independence and quality of life.
Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee worked with General Electric to develop an audit tool they can apply to the design of their small appliances. The tool can be used by engineers, retailers and individuals as well. The title of the tool is Small Kitchen Appliance Accessibility and Universal Design Information Tool (SKA AUDIT). It includes 7 features: doors, lids, dials, on/off water reservoirs, buttons and “ready” indicators. Both physical and cognitive conditions were considered in the development of the tool.
The title of the article is Small Kitchen Appliance Accessibility and Universal Design Information Tool (SKA AUDIT).
From the abstract
Over a quarter of Americans have a disability. These affect mobility, self-care, and household activities including meal preparation and housework. Preparing meals at home is a powerful way to reduce the risk of depression, stroke, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis, and inflammatory diseases such as arthritis.
Small kitchen appliances play a significant role in meal preparation and have the potential to help increase the independence. Currently, very few guidelines exist to ensure that small kitchen appliances are accessible and usable.
This paper discusses the development of the Small Kitchen Appliance Accessibility and Universal Design Information Tool (SKA AUDIT). The tool allows practitioners to score the accessibility and usability of common small kitchen appliance features based on their client’s impairments. It also helps with choosing more usable small kitchen appliances.
The Pain of Design
Arthritis is a common condition and is not often referred to as a disability. However, the pain of arthritis is disabling. So how to design out pain? Design Council ran a workshop with people with arthritis. They found that no-one was interested in special products, which are often stigmatising. So the principle of inclusive design became the top issue.
“Inclusive design is crucial. You have to step away from the idea that it’s “older people” having a problem and start looking at a universal problem and therefore a universal solution.”
Most importantly, people want desirable, stylish, mainstream products that anyone would want to own. People don’t want medicalised, stigmatising equipment. Clearly, including the user-voice is the way to design for all rather than the mythical average. We all want usable products and appliances.
The article is titled, Ollie Phelan of Versus Arthritis writes about the importance of the end-user being at the heart of design, and can be accessed on the Medium.com website where there is more information.