A call for products and packaging designed for all consumers, regardless of their level of ability
The Accessible Product Design Alliance has today (Tuesday 14 September 2021) released a joint position statement to highlight the struggle with inaccessible products and packaging, experienced by its 5 million consumers living with chronic conditions and disability across Australia and New Zealand.
Comprised of 11 health consumer organisations including MS Australia, the Alliance is calling for changes to improve access to products and packaging that are easy to use for consumers with physical and other impairments.
Difficult to open products and packaging cause day-to-day frustration for people without disability. However, for those living with a chronic condition or disability (including multiple sclerosis or MS), they can cause unnecessary physical pain and discomfort, stress, frustration and impact a person’s independence.
People living with MS experience a range of symptoms, such as muscle weakness or incoordination, function problems with hands, arms and/or legs, heavy MS fatigue, visual or sensory disturbances and pain. Inaccessible products and packaging can exacerbate or impact these symptoms, nor tend to not allow for such symptoms and can make daily life difficult.
Andrew Potter, National Advocacy Coordinator for MS Australia, has lived with MS for the last 30 years, and shares: “Many of us live with the constant frustration of not being able to open easily what appear to be the simplest of items – a packet of biscuits, a jar of jam, a tube of toothpaste. This limits our choices. It’s not just about food packaging, which is challenging enough, but many household and personal items come in boxes and packages that are too difficult to open – often we just give up!”
Accessible and inclusive product and packaging design:
- Provides independence and makes a tangible difference to how people feel.
- Helps meet a person’s changing needs across their lifetime.
- Brings smart, innovative research and design into the home, work and other settings, to help not hinder consumers.
- Improves safety and comfort.
- Achieves equity and inclusivity.
‘’A strong focus for MS Australia is to improve quality of life and wellbeing for people with MS, including those living with disability and ageing with MS, which in the context of product and packaging design is significant”, says CEO of MS Australia Rohan Greenland. “We endorse this call for change, to enable and support more research and help facilitate product designers to develop innovative, accessible and inclusive products and packaging.”
For more information on the Accessible Product Design Alliance and the joint Position Statement visit: https://arthritisaustralia.com.au/accessible-design-division/accessible-product-design-alliance/.
Keep up to date on the Alliance’s activities by following its new Instagram account: www.instagram.com/accessiblealliance.
Population ageing and the increasing prevalence of disability and chronic conditions means that more and more people are significantly impacted by accessibility issues. Conditions that affect people’s ability to use products and packaging include neurological conditions (such as MS), arthritis and other musculoskeletal conditions, movement disorders and other related degenerative disorders. These conditions can lead to impairments in strength, dexterity and coordination, as well as fatigue and tremors that make packaging and products harder to use.
The Accessible Product Design Alliance objectives are to support the development of more inclusive product and packaging design through awareness raising, research, and the adoption by government and industry of systemic changes to policy and standards that incorporate accessible design principles. In addition:
- To raise awareness of accessibility issues relating to product and packaging design for people with limited dexterity and mobility.
- To support the development of more inclusive product and packaging designs.
- To promote accessible product design principles to the government and industry, in both Australia and New Zealand and to advocate for whole-of-government, systemic changes to policy. and standards that incorporate accessible design principles.
- To support research into accessible product and packaging design.
The Accessible Product Design Alliance
The Accessible Product Design Alliance is a group of 11 not-for-profit consumer health organisations that represent people with chronic conditions who are significantly impacted by inaccessible products and packaging. The Alliance was formed in 2019 to advocate to government and industry to improve access to products and packaging that are easy to use for these consumers and to increase research in the area.
The Alliance organisations are Arthritis Australia, Arthritis New Zealand, Cerebral Palsy Alliance, Cystic Fibrosis Australia, Huntington’s Australia, MND Australia (Motor Neurone Disease), MS Australia (Multiple Sclerosis), Muscular Dystrophy Foundation of Australia, Parkinson’s Australia, Stroke Foundation of Australia and Pain Australia.
These member organisations represent an important cross-section of the millions of Australians who struggle with inaccessible design and its impacts on their daily lives.
Feature image: Andrew Potter with an accessible, easy-open/grip/read food product/package (Ulverstone TAS, 2021). Special thanks to Jane Potter, photographer.