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Design awards for improving life for disabled

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Scottish housing association Blackwood rewards the best new innovations for disabled people

An app that helps users improve living spaces for those with dementia and a specially designed guidance system for visually impaired athletes have won awards in an annual accessible design competition run by a Scottish housing association.

The Blackwood Design Awards aim to highlight the best new innovations to help people with disabilities live life to the full.

The winners were presented with tropies at an event held at Blackwood’s head office in Edinburgh.

Sara McDermid from the Dementia Services Development Centre at the University of Stirling collected the award for Best Collaborative Project by a university or institute of higher learning for its Iridis app for people with dementia.

The Best New Concept category was won by Andrew Taylor with his specially-designed guidance system for visually impaired athletes. It works in a similar way to parking sensors using sound to guide runners round the track.

While both Sara and Andrew collected their awards in person, South Korean company Neofect had there’s sent out after winning the top prize in both the Best Aids and Equipment and Best Accessible Technology categories for its RAPAEL Smart Glove and Smart Pegboard. Both of these devices can be used in the rehabilitation and treatment following serious injury or stroke.

Sara said: “It’s fantastic to get this recognition and we believe we’ve achieved something really quite special with Iridis and have big plans for it going forward.

“I think it’s a great example of how universities and business can work well together.

“We’re looking to develop a range of products within the Iridis range across a range of sectors including housebuilding so that we can start to future-proof buildings and help people with dementia.”

Andrew said: “It’s amazing to have won this award especially when you consider the quality of the other entrants.

“It’s very much in the prototype stages at the moment but I’m working hard to develop it and make it more robust while developing the technology it uses even further.”

Past winners of the Blackwood Design Awards include Grant Douglas, who created the S’up spoon, which helps people with shaky hands to eat and has seen widespread growth in sales since the award.

Max Brown, chair of the Blackwood Board, said: “It was magnificent to welcome our winners to our head office and celebrate their talents with them.

“No matter how detailed or simplistic the entries to the Blackwood Design Awards are, they make a huge difference in helping those living with disabilities to live more independently, which is why we encourage any budding inventor to enter the competition.”



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