March 19, 2019
IKEA—a global retailer that is nearly as famous for its Swedish meatballs as it is for its self-assembled, affordable home furnishings—has started an initiative that will make its products more accessible and adaptable to customers with disabilities.
This month, Goodnet reports, IKEA Israel has teamed up with two NGOs, Access Israel and MILBAT—both of which focus on increasing accessibility for and inclusion of people with disabilities—to create the new ThisAbles line of furnishings.
The line comprises 13 add-ons—designed to be created on a 3D printer—that:
- Make doors and closets open more easily,
- Extend the legs of sofas and chairs to better accommodate sitting and standing,
- Offer a place to attach walking sticks or canes to beds so they are easily accessible,
- Make shower curtains easier to open and close with a large handle, and e
- Protect other household furniture with special bumpers to attach at wheelchair levels.
“There is a large population of people with disabilities who cannot enjoy and use a variety of products, furniture and household items that we and our retail colleagues offer to the public,” CEO of IKEA Israel Shuki Koblenz told the Jerusalem Post in an interview, adding, “IKEA has vowed to create a better daily life for as many people as possible, and we feel it is our duty to create this initiative and allow people with disabilities to enjoy a wide range of products, furniture and household items.”
Before starting the new line of accessories, Access Israel conducted a survey in cooperation with IKEA—and found 130 furniture and household items that could be improved for people with disabilities. The accessories were designed by MILBAT, an organization dedicated to increasing the independence of disabled people by means of assistive devices and technology. it was a perfect fit, the three partners say.
In all four of its Israel-based stores, IKEA now has placed special tags that detail the suitability and benefits of the add-ons for people with different disabilities on the 130 items that can be modified by the ThisAbles.
The smart additions also will be displayed in a special area so that shoppers can view the items and see how they connect to existing products.
The full series of additions and the IKEA products that can be modified are available on the ThisAbless website along with helpful product training videos.
In addition, the ThisAbles line of products can be purchased on the MILBAT website—or people can scan the barcode of the new products to print independently in a 3D printer. This makes them readily available to people who live in other countries.
Today, according to Access Israel, over 1.6 million people—8% of the population—live with disabilities; around 700,000 of them, severe.
“I am convinced that this initiative will actually improve the quality of life of people with disabilities in Israel and around the world,” Yuval Wagner, president and founder of nonprofit Access Israel, told the Jerusalem Post.
Research contact: #ThisAbles