bespoken is launching a new design challenge for 2012!


This year we have teamed up with 3 Universities – Brunel, Coventry and Loughborough – and we want your insight and expertise to guide them.


This is how it works – we have final year design students at all these universities looking for inspiration for their projects.  They want to create something that meets a real need.


Tell us your ideas, issue your challenges and the students will select their projects from this list.


So – what doesn’t exist that should?  What should these bright young minds be working on?  I’ve left the ideas from last year below to get you started.


The floor is yours…

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I would very much like to see elbow crutches which are deigned to be used by people who have had one or both wrist's fused. All elbow crutches appear to be designed only for use by people who can bend their wrists in some way - once you have had a wrist fused there appears to be nothing on the market to enable you to use elbow crutches for proper support. There are gutter crutches but for someone who has bad proprioception and cannot sense where the ends of their limbs are, they just lead to constant tripping up over the gutter crutches and further injuries.

I am paraplegic and was an International swimmer . I represented Great Britain at 4 Paralympic Games winning a total of 15 Paralympic medals including 3 gold. Unfortunately as the result of a worsening breathing condition I had surgery to have a permanent tracheostomy tube in 2005 which ended my swimming career. After much searching from my very supportive surgeon he sourced a Larkel (snorkel type swimming aid)  for people who breathe through their neck. After specialised training in using the Larkel in Liverpool I was able to use the snorkel in my local pool. I was only able to swim once a week as the snorkel irriitated my trachea. After 5 years using the snorkel it has worn and I am unable to use it as it is too dangerous. When I tried to order a new one from NALC (national association of laryngectomy clubs) they broke the news they cannot supply the Larkel now as they can't get insurance as the old design is classed too dangerous! That is my challenge to the universities to please please help me and many more neck breathers by coming up with a new design of snorkel type device to get me and others back in the pool. Looking forward to your reply to my challenge. Maggi McEleny MBE
hi I use a Luggie scooter inside as well as out. I could do with a tray like fixture to clip on to the handles to carry meals/cups from the kitchen to the living room. Needs to have a lip all round, cup holder and sections for plates/ cutlery. Appeal to anyone to design? Also a crutches holder to clip to the solid seat back

There is so much scope for an Action Research  Proposal here, that I thought I would mention it to all the brains on board.

This house has served me well - and using it as an Empowerment centre, I successfully identified several barriers in the Community: in Policy and Practice; in transport and leisure.

I am ready now to move on, but so much work was done here to make this a completely bespoke facility, that i am reluctant to put it on the market before those who have a vested interest have their say.

Have a look at "The Development of Tulloch Ard", and try to keep in mind that this was achieved by one severely disabled guy, who enlisted the help of one woman. That was it. We had no big backing; no source of funding; no marvellous salary. just a belief that we could make things better than they were through imagination, innovation and intelligent thinking.

Have a look at the specifications of the house. See if you can see the potential which we recognised all these years ago now.

All the best,




Well, judging from the response, it certainly looks as if housing is not the priority disabled people say it is.

That leaves me at liberty to put it on the open market, and not feel guilty that someone is missing out!


Hello Linda!

I've only just joined this site, and started reading the numerous threads on the forum.

The house you have posted about here does look like it was an incredible project, and well done too I imagine.

Yes there is a lack of housing, I've waited a good 3 or 4 years to find the flat we've just now moved into. Before this we lived in a flat in Alva where, while it was originally "wheel chair adapted" the owners, another housing group I won't name, redid the kitchen and made it worse, when it seemed brand new and did not need doing. They wouldn't fix things that needed doing, and generally ignored their tenants as much as they could.

Then there were the "services" like a post office that had a step to get into, no matter how many times I called they wouldn't change it, and bus drivers on First who were down right nasty to me when I dared to try to go anywhere via bus, if the driver even bothered to stop that is.

One problem I see is that not enough people know where the alternatives are, or that there are any alternatives at all. Another is that people here do not complain enough, loud enough, long enough to get things changed.

Knowledge is what we need most! Can you go to a local paper and tell them about the home and what you'd like to see done? It will certainly reach a wider audience that way I think.


Hi, Catherine,

Thanks for these encouraging words.

I've been to Planning, Horizon Housing, Social Work department Spinal Injuries Scotland to attempt to keep it in the disabled Community.

Somewhere, somehow, people can't see the potential - and as you say, knowledge is lacking. I found that out when i tried to study housing and disability at University, and all the Housing information was kept by Scottish Homes, I think at the time. I could not take out any book. Anything I wanted to learn about, I had to sit there until I found it.

That was when I really understood that they don't want people to know. It doesn't help. people would ask for too much. So it is kept under wraps.

At the same time, there is full disclosure - if you know where to look.

i have had one interesting call about the house, so we will see what happens.

Kind regards,


Are you trying to sell, rent, what?

Maybe it's this flu addled brain of mine, yes in fact I am sure it is, but I am not sure (yet) if you're trying to sell, rent, go into partnership with someone else to do the same for them.... I'll have to read it again when the fog clears from my brain lol

If I do finally "get it" maybe I can add a link/story to my own site as well. My OH is currently revamping our site so there will be new areas to add content to, and this might be an interesting one.


Okay, Catherine

1. i am trying to preserve this house for those who require it, rather than putting it on the general market.

2. I need to sell, as I am moving on.

3. I would ideally like it to be an Action Research Project, covering as many aspests of Independent living as possible, becuase there are so many out there still do not "get it" as far as independence is concerned. In other words, get the University, with all its various faculties involved: Social Work, Architecture,Urban Studies; Humanities:,geographers; Statisticians: And of course, Medicine. 

4, Encourage these groups to see the benefit of commonality rather than difference: if they can start start working together on a project this large, it will create joined up thinking. Once this starts in the Universtities, it will trickle down into practice.

5. I call it the BIg Idea - or the Universal Challenge. Once rolled out across various Local Authorities it could be the real answer to funding future care.

It is quite a lot to get your head round, but it is ever so simple, once you see it in practice. I hope the attached file helps.

Thanks for your query.

Kind regards,


i just need the right person in the right position to say: "Got it!"



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