A project with the charity Designability has inspired students at Bath College to think about assistive technology and the way their creations can be used to help others.
Designability, based in Bath, is a national charity working with people, carers and health professionals to research and design new life-changing products.
Its creations include the Wizzybug – an innovative powered wheelchair with simple controls designed to give children as young as 14 months the freedom to move around.
Level 3 product design students were set a challenge by Designability to create new items for staff at Bath College with a range of different needs.
They were asked to think about assistive technologies for three real-life clients, understanding the challenges of using a guide dog, cycling with osteoarthritis and deafness.
Students kept in contact with their clients, talking to them about their varying needs and getting feedback on designs before presenting their ideas to Designability.
Cai Smith, Jack Mitchell and Matt George were all involved with the project and will be applying to study at university after developing a passion for product design.
Products presented to Designability included a bag which can be put on a bike and also be pulled along, doubling up as a back support and seat.
19-year-old Cai created a dog clicker with a finger trigger. The product makes a noise before a dog is rewarded, helping a guide dog user to train their companion.
He said: “This course prepares you better for university than any other course I know. I did first year AS level product design at sixth form and it was completely different. This course is more practical.
“Working with real-life clients gives you the motivation you need as a designer. Being able to visit them to get feedback is probably the most useful thing. It’s definitely inspired us.”
Bath College lecturer James Purslow said: “One of the challenges for our students is getting to grips with how the user will approach their design. Working on a brief like this ensures that aspect is at the forefront of their consideration and focuses their thinking.”
Rob Hanson, from Designability, said: “The Bath College students have displayed a mature, empathetic and creative response to their brief by engaging with their clients and identifying their needs.
“They have shown impressive model making skills and, more importantly, shown the initiative to use their prototypes to gather real, critical design feedback from end users.
“The students’ passion for product design is clear in their design solutions that not only solve real problems, but also look great and have market potential.”