Accessible product design




Arthritis is a chronic condition that affects the day to day life of many around the world. Comes with it are limitations with mobility and the need to depend on external support to go on with daily tasks. The challenge was to understand the range of difficulty within different daily tasks and create an accessible product to assist people who faced these difficulties.




Learning about the condition through research from statistics and reports, it was identified that arthritis was more commonly found amongst women more than men, more specifically in the type of condition called Rheumatoid Arthritis. This condition was associated with joint pain, stiffness, and morning stiffness.

 Following this, having in depth discussions with doctors from Toronto Western Hospital opened up insights about the the difficulties and limitations people face based on the anatomy of the body (specific to the hand) for different stages of the condition. The discussion with the physiotherapist included insights of issues, symptoms, and treatments that patients encounter.

 Speaking first hand to people who were in different stages of this condition opened up most insights to understand their daily struggles in undertaking tasks.  




Expert research from reports, statistics and doctors along with the user research from actual people with the condition informed that there was a lot of potential to create solutions for women with rheumatoid arthritis for tasks completed in the morning. Exploring different tasks within this realm and gauging the range of difficulty, the task of hair maintenance was chosen. This was due to extreme difficulty faced by this demographic in maintaining their hair, be it tying their hair, styling it or even just brushing it.




Since rheumatoid arthritis was more commonly found with younger women, the target group chosen was young professionals who faced this condition.


Annette, Age 30. Business Entrepreneur.



Mapping out Annette’s journey, her pain points were identified that could inform the necessary requirements required in the accessible product that was to be designed.




Understanding more about the condition, the pain points and the ease points various ideations were iterated and consulted with users as potential solutions. Prototypes of designs were treated and tested out based on different range positions that was comfortable for users.




With several iterations and feedback, three versions of the accessible product for hair maintenance was designed based on the level of dexterity (mild, moderate and extreme). A prototype for the product with extreme dexterity was designed and developed further and tested upon actual users with the problem, wherein they found it easier to brush their hair using this product.



Slightly bent for easy grasping

Company for easy gripping

Fits into concavity of palm

Spring helps in moving the comb along the shape of head 



Better grip to reduce strain

Minimal bending of fingers

Easy clasping with minimal movement from resting hand position

Adequate room to place thumb by not bending fingers



Less strain for fingers and plan

Wider handle to accommodate all 4 fingers

Slide band to support the fingers

Broad surface area to minimize strokes and flexible to accommodate shape of head