Interview with Simon Lyons of Version22

Version22 recently completed their Kickstarter campaign for their second product Nimble. Nimble is clever little device that allows you to safely open tricky packaging.

The campaign was wildly successful – they exceeded 600% of their original funding target. Here at Ethos Disability, we’ve had relationship with Version22 going back to summer of last year – we helped beta test Nimble for them.

So naturally I was delighted to see their Kickstarter do so well. I caught up with Simon Lyons (director of Version22) as he basked in the glow of crowdfunding success to ask him about his future plans.

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Version22 reached 695% over the funding target – what do you think the secret of your crowding funding success is?

We ended up raising over 600% of our goal on Kickstarter and if I had to pick two things that I think contributed the most to this success it would be these. Firstly, having a pre-existing audience of people interested in what you do is crucial. You need to have a community of people to send to your campaign page the instant it goes live to help get things off to a strong start. Secondly, the majority of the work involved in a Kickstarter campaign has to be carried out prior to launch. For example lining up blog reviews and features, connecting with power users of social media and having a clear plan of action as to what each day of your campaign is going to look like is crucially important. If you launch on Day 1 with no press agreed or at least in the works, you are going to struggle to get the strong start that is so important with crowdfunding.

Having surpassed your initial target by so much – where has that moved Version22’s goals to?

Surpassing our original goal for Nimble means that Version22 will now able to optimise the design of Nimble a little further through prototyping, and produce a larger quantity of Nimbles in our first production run. It also provides us with a safety net in case certain expenses end up being larger than anticipated (which is very likely).

What new developments for Nimble will we see from Version 22 as result of the extra funding?

New developments of Nimble aren’t something I can talk about now, but I will be revealing things through Kickstarter updates when we have more information and something to show everyone.

Kickstarter Link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/version22design/nimble-the-1-finger-wonder-tool

What advice would you give other product designers in this space?

Yes I have plans to develop several accessories for Nimble, potentially different variants of Nimble, and new products entirely. I can’t say any more at this time but I will be sharing news with the Version 22 Community via email and Facebook when I know more.

Version22 Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Version22Design/

Version22 Twitter: https://twitter.com/Version22Design

There is a little known thing called ‘The Wheelchair Luggage Problem”. The problem is niche problem of more generic one – namely that wheelchair user never have a free pair of hands.

Our hands are always in use. Meaning that we struggle to carry, lift or push anything else but our chair. “The Wheelchair Luggage Problem” is just a niche of that.

While everyone else is touting those spacious, yet small, carry on bags – you’re there pushing along thinking, “damn, I wish I could use something like that.”

Well recently I went on a short break to Tenerife to visit a friend. The flight was hand luggage only, which left me considering ‘The Wheelchair Luggage Problem.”

The Wheelchair Luggage Problem

Now I’m use to carrying a backpack most places. So I figured if I could find a bag that was a backpack, I’d be good! So I search around and found the Cabin Max Metz – I did a full review that you can read here.

The Mertz worked really well but as I said in my review – it doesn’t entirely solve ‘The Wheelchair Luggage Problem.” This is mostly because if you want quickly grab your tablet, book or laptop that isn’t so easy. So I got thinking what else I could take with me to fix this.

Now on most flights – you are also allowed to take a bag that can go under the seat. But that is another bag right? So, we’re back to the ‘Wheelchair Luggage Problem” because I still don’t have a free pair of hands.

Trabasack Curve Connec Blue v2

Enter Trabasack – my answer to where you stash the tech that you want in flight. Pretty much all products in the Trabasack range can sit securely on your lap while the Mertz is on your back. This leaves your hands free to do what they need to.

So there you have it – the answer to “The Wheelchair Luggage Problem”, combined the Metz with a Trabasack and you are good to go!

Buy The Cabin Max Metz from here.

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The Wheelchair Flight Guide

Your health condition changes over time. Whether the changes come because of the nature of your condition or because of your environment –  your condition will change.

And it is important to recognise those changes and it is important to be able to think through what they mean.

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I think a good analogy is buying a car. That sporty little number that you loved in your 20s isn’t so great when you have a family of four and a dog. Your needs change over time and for a variety of different reasons.

Becoming Condition Driven Consumers

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Here at ED, we recently had a young man come to us because he sensed that his condition was changing. He was older, he was working and he felt that his current wheelchair wasn’t meeting the needs of his condition anymore.

But here’s the thing… He had no idea what to do about it. So we gave him some advice that he said was good so I thought that I’d share it with you.

Write down your goals and think about what you want.

I think that this is a big one that not enough people with long-term conditions think about. What your goals are and what you want are big important things. Going to university, getting involved in sport or even just taking the dog for a walk.

Look for information on your condition

This is something that we at ED can offer. But there are now many good quality sources of information around. Here are a few:

Facebook – Facebook now has lots of condition specific groups that are filled with active community members.

Scope Community – Scope’s community pages have lots of really useful contributions on a variety of different topics.

Our Blog – We tag everything that we write by conditions so if you go to our blog page, you can filter blogs by condition.

Step 3 – Tell Someone

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Our client decided that it was a new wheelchair that he needed – one that better fit the changed needs of his condition. Said client was worried though – he was worried because he’d long since been given a new chair and thought that meant the NHS wouldn’t support him getting another.

That is not the case. The NHS are happy to support you with voucher (see Buying A Wheelchair) for a new wheelchair if you can demonstrate your the needs of your condition have changed. Your condition is more than some medical label. Its how old you are, its where you in your life’s journey and its about what your goals are. That is your condition. That is why you need to be an active consumer.

Here at ED, we’re always here to help you. We can listen and support you through the process of deciding what is important to you. Contact Us today.

 

Asda’s Quiet Hour, introduced to help autistic and other disabled customers has been met with rave reviews. The Asda Living Store in Manchester Fort shopping centre opened a hour early at 8am on Saturday for a ‘Quiet Hour’.

The ‘Quiet Hour’ involved switching off all electronic equipment (including escalators) to create a less intensive environment. Customers were also given maps of the store made from pictures that were more accessible to them.

The ‘Quiet Hour’ was so well received that the Manchester Evening News reported that eight over shops in Manchester Fort are set to follow suit.

For those who don’t know –  people with Autism and other learning disabilities often experience issues with noise, crowded places and unfamiliar locations can be hugely distressing for people with these conditions.

For many people and organisations, the impact of living with conditions like Autism can be hard to understand. Just like any other condition. Its all the little things. They add up. Their accumulative impact can often be massive.

It is really great to see big chains like Asda take these steps and lead the way.

Simon Lea, manager of the Asda Living store at Manchester Fort, explained he came up with the idea  for ‘Quiet Hour’ to help people who felt intimidated or stressed by noise and disturbance.

He said. “It went really well. The store was silent, and we had great feedback from the families who benefited. Now it will be a regular event for us – every Saturday. We have eight other stores on board now at Manchester Fort who will be doing the same.”

We can hope that we’ll see other chains and stores follow suit with similar initiatives.

Learn more about Autism here: http://www.autism.org.uk/about/what-is/asd.aspx

 

The 2016 Invictus Games are going to take place between 8-12 May. The Games will feature 500 competitors from 15 countries, competing across 10 different accessible sports including athletics, sitting volleyball, wheelchair basketball and rugby.

What Are The Invictus Games?

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The Invictus Games were an initiative started by Prince Harry. On a trip to the US in 2013 to watch the ‘Warrior Games’, Harry was struck by the power of sport to help rehabilitate service men and women who had suffered life altering physical and mental trauma.

Harry being the all round good guy that he is, decided that he needed to do his bit to help these outstanding men and women who had given so much to their countries.  So in 2014, the ‘People’s Prince’ organised the inaugural Invictus Games for injured and sick service people to come together and compete against each other.

These Games have shone a spotlight on the ‘unconquerable’ character of service men and women and their families and their ‘Invictus’ spirit. These Games have been about seeing guys sprinting for the finish line and then turning round to clap the last man in. They have been about teammates choosing to cross the line together, not wanting to come second, but not wanting the other guys to either. These Games have shown the very best of the human spirit.

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Why Invictus?

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Invictus means unconquered and is forever associated with the poem by William Ernest Henley. It has been popularised by many people but perhaps most notably Nelson Mandela.

Why I Think The Invictus Games Matter

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In September 1943, a Jewish neurosurgeon called Dr Ludwig Guttmann was charged with establishing a spinal injuries treatment centre at Stoke Mandeville Hospital. As director of the new centre, Guttmann introduced sport as rehabilitation method for many of the injured servicemen who were sent there.

Later, he help organise the first Stoke Mandeville Games. By 1952, over 130 competitors came to compete in the Stoke Mandeville games. By 1960, the games were held in conjunction with the Rome summer Olympics.

Guttmann was famously quoted as saying, “‘”If ever I did one good thing in my medical career it was to introduce sport into the treatment and rehabilitation programme of spinal cord sufferers and other severely disabled.”‘

The Paralympic Games have since gone from strength to strength. The London games in 2012, perhaps marked a significant shift from the perception of the event as ‘participation’ and more toward an elite sports event. Certainly the bar continues to be raised in terms of standards and barriers to participation.

Which is why I believe the Invictus Games to be so important. They are the gap in provision between participation and the Paralympics. Please support them by watching and taking part on social media.

Find out more here: https://invictusgamesfoundation.org/foundation/story