Results of accessibility in the home survey: February 2020

Arthritis Australia in association with members of the Access Alliance in Australia, and Arthritis New Zealand undertook a survey to identify issues for people with disabilities in their households. The survey was a partnership project with a university design department.

There was a total of 121 responses. The biggest responders by age group were consumers 65 and over (38%).  Arthritis consumers were the largest group who answered the survey (80%), followed by Multiple Sclerosis (17%). Cerebral Palsy, Stroke, and general pain each represented less than 1% of responders. Australia had the most responders (67%) with New Zealand having approximately half of that at 31%. Some people did not want to give their nationality.

The survey looked at many parts of the house including the kitchen, laundry and cleaning, bathroom, bedroom, lounge room and dining room and electronics.

A common theme was that people felt that they were not strong enough to use objects in these spaces. Many examples were given of opting out of using heavier objects. For example, swapping out more expensive pots for cheaper, lighter versions and replacing their kettle with a hot water dispenser. Manual recliners were replaced with automatic recliners, heavy dining chairs were replaced with lighter chairs and vacuum cleaners with stick models.

In kitchens, 89% of consumers identified that products being difficult to grip, hold and control caused them difficulty. In bedrooms mattress and beds far outweighed all other products in the hard to use category. One solution was were purchasing a lighter mattress. Low beds were difficult getting in and out. Some consumers found purchasing a higher and firmer bed helpful.

Computer mice and device chargers emerged in the hard to use category. Comments on device chargers identified difficulties in inserting and removing the charger from power sockets and the device.

The survey shows there is room for improvement in the design of household products to meet the needs of people with arthritis who have restricted movement.

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