Inclusive Fitness Equipment for People with a Visual Impairment

January 2018

Eric Harris and Freddie Gregory, Research Institute for Consumer Affairs (Rica)

The design of fitness equipment used in many gyms is a barrier to visually impaired people taking part in exercise. This research, carried out by Rica with the support of Thomas Pocklington Trust and Metro Blind Sport, investigates the development and provision of electronic fitness equipment for visually impaired users. There is a specific focus on the accessibility of screen based consoles, and the needs and experiences of users.

Key Findings: 

  • LED consoles that feature tactile buttons and a fixed display are moderately more accessible than touchscreen consoles.
  • There is an urgent need for voice-over technology to ensure fitness equipment is accessible for visually impaired users.
  • Participants reported that use of cardio fitness equipment led to an improvement in their everyday fitness and mental health.
  • Accessing fitness equipment is challenging for visually impaired users due to the built environment and issues with customer service and communication.
  • Barriers to the development of inclusive fitness equipment include: cost, industry culture, a lack of awareness of visually impaired users’ experiences and an over-reliance on IFI standards to ensure products are accessible.

Links:

Research Findings: Inclusive Fitness Equipment for People with a Visual Impairment – PDF version and Word version

Full Report: Inclusive Fitness Equipment for People with a Visual Impairment – PDF version and Word version


Image shows coffee making machine filling up a cup of tea

Assistive and Inclusive Home Technology: A Guide for People with Sight Loss

July 2016

Jay Stow, Research Consultant

A new Guide on Assistive and Inclusive Home Technology claims that recent technological advances are creating solutions to everyday challenges for people with sight loss.

Launched by Thomas Pocklington Trust, the cutting-edge Guide covers a broad range of high- and low-tech products used for a variety of activities around the home, from online shopping and reading to health and fitness.

The Guide includes:

  • Hints and tips on getting to grips with technology for the uninitiated, including what kinds of products to purchase
  • Information on available funding and a wide range of useful resources, both in-person and online
  • A handy checklist and questions for occupational therapists and support workers to identify the needs of their clients and help plan a way forward
  • A section specifically for designers, highlighting the need to work alongside visually impaired people in the early stages of the product development process

The Guide will form the centrepiece of an online portal with a comprehensive product database to be launched in Summer 2017.

Links:

Assistive and Inclusive Home Technology: A Guide for People with Sight Loss – PDF version and Word version