ThisAbles collaboration enables people with disabilities to 3D-print add-ons to regular IKEA furniture to make it more easily accessible for all. By Naama Barak | April 3, 2019
Everyone (well, almost) loves a good stroll through IKEA, and the people of Israel are certainly no different. Pronounced eek-eh-ah in Hebrew, the Scandinavian giant’s furniture decorates almost every home in country, making it the perfect place to roll out super-smart accessories that make life simper for all.
At IKEA Israel, 13 accessories designed for people with disabilities can now be scanned at no cost and printed out using 3D printers to add to the store’s furniture. The aim is to increase the products’ usability and raise awareness of inclusion and accessibility.
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This is no small matter, considering that some 1.5 million people in Israel have some sort of disability, and another 900,000 people are elderly, making their needs more unique.
“The fact that you have a disability doesn’t mean you don’t want to carry on living a normal life,” says Yuval Wagner, the president and founder of Access Israel, one of the NGOs collaborating on the ThisAbles project.
“At the end of the day, if you have a disability you want to carry on living a normal life like everyone else. We’re happy that this project enables people to go to IKEA and feel like everyone else,” he says.
Access Israel partnered with IKEA Israel and Milbat, an NGO that harnesses design and technology to provide people with disabilities with more independence, to create the new ThisAbles collection.
“Since you spend most of your time at work or at home, you want to be very comfortable both at work and at home,” Wagner says. “If you choose the right furniture and the right accessories, you can improve convenience and usability to be much more comfortable in your everyday life. That’s the whole idea.”
To understand what accessories could make life simpler, a group of people with disabilities toured IKEA’s stores to point out what’s missing from existing furniture. Then, designers created the add-ons, which can be printed out to minimize cost and maximize exposure.
While it’s unknown how many add-ons have already been printed out, the response, Wagner says, has been wonderful. “People are really, really loving it. They’re very excited about the developments and the ideas. I hope that IKEA will duplicate this on the global level.”
To find out more about ThisAbles and 3D printing options, visit https://thisables.com/en/.