Mason and Zach with Dr George Torrens at the presentation of the competition

From L-R: Mason Wong, Dr George Torrens and Zach Rigby

Design School students create inclusive sports products

Students from the Design School recently took part in a competition to develop assistive sports products and games for schoolchildren with disabilities.

Over 800,000 children across the UK have a disability or cognitive impairment. The competition encouraged and supported University students to design innovative products which all children can access.

The competition was supported by the Andrew Simpson Sports Enabling Trust (ASSET), providing a £950 bursary to the winner of the competition to help them prototype their product, alongside two runner-up prizes of £25.

Student entrants were given the opportunity to undertake research at RNIB College Loughborough over a number of visits, by conducting interviews, observations and activities alongside pupil co-designers.

Over 37 students took part in the competition, including a number of Erasmus students from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands.

The judges of the competition were June Murray, Principal of RNIB College Loughborough; Ken Black, Senior Lecturer in Inclusive Sports at the University of Worcester; and Martin Grant, REMAP GB, Leicestershire and Rutland Panel.

The winner was Zach Rigby, a second year student on the BSc Product Design and Technology programme.

His idea, Poly Push, is an adaptable, multi-functional table top game which can be altered to suit the player’s desires.

Using cues that are easier to use, as well as larger goals and lighter balls, Poly Push can be played on most table top surfaces with a simple instalment and can be adapted to become different games, such as pool, skittles and table football.

Commenting on his win, Zach said: “It was really enjoyable to work with the kids and see how their disabilities affect them from day to day. Building a relationship with them allowed us to produce these amazing ideas that put a smile on their faces, which was really nice.

“Hopefully they will be able to use these products one day. The amount of products out there on the market that aren’t designed to tailor to impaired individuals – I think it really needs looking into.”

The runners-up of the competition were students Liam Toase (BSc Design Ergonomics) and Mason Wong (BSc Product Design and Technology).

Liam designed Navigo, a wrist worn product that aims to make orienteering accessible for all by stimulating senses. This could be in the form of lights, vibration or sound given when they are close to a target or location.

Mason created Cyan, a competitive game which involves the act of balancing a ball on a surface whilst navigating through a course using neon cones. The game encourages teamwork, uses neon cones to suit visually impaired users and can also be adapted for wheelchair users.

Dr George Torrens, Senior Lecturer in the Design School commented: “The students from the different programmes, as well as the Erasmus students from Delft University, have thoroughly enjoyed working with the staff and students from the RNIB College and meeting with the experts who are actively involved in inclusive sports and design.

“There were only five points between the top ten entries, which made it a tough choice for the judges.

“We appreciate the continued support of ASSET who have supported the competition for the last three years. I’d also like to thank the three judges for volunteering to review so many entries in a short time.”