Over 100 guests, including members of the University community and special guest our Chancellor, HRH The Earl of Wessex, joined Bath-based charity Designability at an event this week to celebrate its 50th Anniversary.

Now based at the Royal United Hospital in Bath, Designability was co-founded by the University in partnership with the local health board back in 1968.

Five decades of success

In the five decades since, drawing on the University’s research strengths and support, the charity has been at the forefront of many advances in assistive and enabling technologies – positively impacting the lives of more than 250,000 people.

At the event, which coincided with the University’s summer graduation celebrations, attendees saw examples across a range of projects with which the charity is currently involved.

These included products designed to help people living with dementia; new seating systems to better support young children living with cerebral palsy; and a ground-breaking virtual reality project with the University’s Centre for Digital Entertainment to support rehabilitation of people with brain injuries.

The event was also an opportunity to showcase Designability’s flagship product, Wizzybug. Three disabled children attended the celebration in their Wizzybugs - the powered wheelchairs for children under 5s.

Since 2011, over 550 disabled children have received a free loan of a Wizzybug across the UK, enabling them to experience independent mobility for the first time, funded by generous supporters.

In his speech, HRH The Earl of Wessex reflected on the work that had been carried out and highlighted the impact that the charity had made on the lives of so many people over the last 50 years.

Transformational impact

Mark Humphriss, University Secretary and Vice-Chair of Designability, who welcomed the Chancellor, explained: “The University of Bath has played a major role in Designability ever since we co-founded it in 1968 with the Royal United Hospitals: we both contribute to and benefit from its research and product development.

“We are proud of its successes and particularly the transformational impact of its work with those with healthcare problems and disabilities.”

Professor Nigel Harris, Chief Executive of Designability and researcher within our Centre for Pain Research added: “What an amazing afternoon! It was wonderful to see our staff, supporters and beneficiaries come together to celebrate Designability’s 50 years. We were pleased that so many supporters, partners and distinguished guests were able to join in the celebrations.”