IKEA creates a new line of products for the disabled

The home furnishings giant is teaming up with 2 Israeli nonprofits to make their furniture accessible to everyone.

For people with disabilities, accessibility is not always an option. They encounter barriers that many able-bodied people don't understand. It can be something as simple as getting off the couch, or a more complex endeavor like building a website.

People like Eldar Yusupov, a young Israeli man with cerebral palsy, know the struggle all too well. “In my own home of all places, I’m surrounded by furniture calling out ‘cripple,’” Yusupov said in the above video. “I’d like to sit on a regular sofa without being afraid I won’t be able to get up, to open a regular closet or even to turn on a regular lamp."

For home furnishings giant IKEA, it was time to reduce those barriers. The company has joined forces with two nonprofits in Israel that specialize in creating special solutions for people with special needs and disabilities. Playing off the word disable, the result was ThisAbles. The project features a new line of 3D-printable add-ons that bridge some of the gaps between existing IKEA products and its special-needs customers.

Illustrations of some of IKEA's ThisAbles add-ons Illustrations of some of IKEA's ThisAbles add-ons, available to download and 3D-print. (Photo: ThisAbles Project)

"IKEA’s global vision is to improve the quality of life for as many people as possible, and this also applies to persons with various disabilities, who represent 10% of the world’s population," the project's founders said. "We realized that we must ensure that these persons will also be able to enjoy the quality of life provided by IKEA products, and this is how the project was born."

The add-ons don't alter IKEA's existing furniture, but they do improve the accessibility factor significantly. Products include a packable cane that can be installed next to a bed; a shower curtain gripper for easy opening and closing; a cup holder that snaps to bed frames; and an oversized lamp switch.

IKEA's store in Haifa, Israel. IKEA's store in Haifa, Israel. (Photo: StockStudio/Shutterstock)

IKEA is one of the few big box stores in Israel, with four locations across the Mediterranean country. A new one, expected to open later this year, is currently being constructed in the suburbs between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

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IKEA creates a new line of products for the disabled
The home furnishings giant is teaming up with 2 Israeli nonprofits to make their furniture accessible to everyone.