Degree just launched an important new addition to their product line—a deodorant designed and packaged specifically for people with visual impairment and upper limb motor disabilities. It’s the first step any deodorant brand has made toward including people with disabilities in their customer base.
"As a brand that's committed to inspiring confidence in everyone to move more, Degree believes no one should be held back from experiencing the transformative benefits of movement," said Kathryn Swallow, Global Degree Brand Vice President. "More than 60 million people in the US live with a disability, yet products and experiences are still not designed with this community in mind. With Degree Inclusive we hope to inspire bold action across the industry to ensure that people with disabilities have an equal playing field."
The new packaging aims to solve mobility problems like twisting a deodorant cap, turning a stick, or pushing down on a spray can, all of which can be very challenging for people with disabilities. The product name appears in English letters on the bottle, along with raised braille letters embossed over it. Package design also includes a hook for one-handed use, magnetic closures on the caps that facilitate opening and closing the bottle for those with vision impairment or limited grip, grip placement for those with limited upper mobility, and a large roll-on that requires fewer swipes for full application. The deodorant is also refillable, which is never a bad thing amidst a climate crisis.
“As a disabled designer myself, I know how important it is to include the community from the beginning of the project,” said Christina Mallon, Head of Inclusive Design at Wunderman Thompson. “We worked with consultants with disabilities to understand their pain points with current deodorant designs on the market. Then, our team from SOUR Studios took this feedback and created multiple inclusive deodorant prototypes via a 3-D printer.
Once the prototypes were created, we worked with an occupational therapist to ensure that the designs were ergonomic before sending the prototypes to the consultants to get their feedback on which version best addressed their needs,” Mallon adds. “We found that the consultants really liked the redesigned bottle (rather than adding an adaptive tool to the existing bottle), so we moved forward with the redesign bottle.”
These steps toward disability inclusion may seem trivial to some, but making small changes to product designs can vastly change the way people with disabilities interact with the product and the world at large. To ensure this product accomplishes its accessibility goals, Degree engages people living with disabilities in partnership with The Chicago Lighthouse, Open Style Lab, and Muscular Dystrophy Association, to give input and feedback on the deodorant.
We hope more brands follow suit. The great news about inclusion is that if a product is designed to be more efficient for those with disabilities, then likely it is more efficient for everyone. Inclusion often includes innovation and forward thinking that creates higher industry standards and a better product experience.