Connor, an entrepreneur and inventor, designed the Tru Grip, a door handle extension to enable people with joint pain and other disabilities to open doors with ease. He is inspired by the desire to create products that help both disabled and non-disabled people alike, and he believes that the Tru Grip can enhance everyone’s life.
Read on to find out more about how Connor developed the product, or head straight to buy the Tru Grip door handle extension.
Please tell Disability Horizons readers a bit about yourself and your background.
I like to learn and use what I’ve learnt to help people. My philosophy for life is learn, create, liberate. It’s why I’m a designer and entrepreneur. I believe the more we learn, the more we can all help each other.
I have been learning to design things to help people for about eight years now and I love it! It’s my reason for waking up each day.
Can you tell us about your business, TruRegard, and why you started it?
In 2017, I was working for a product design company on ergonomics and looking at how people use objects with their hands. I started to wonder: “How will I use things when I can’t hold them, when I have no grip strength?”
This idea grew the more I spoke with less-able friends, relatives and even strangers I met in cafés. What I learnt was that grip strength, or lack of it, is not a niche problem.
Everyone will struggle with this problem sometimes, whether they break an arm or were born without one. They may have arthritis or simply have their hands full.
I think there has always been this idea that mobility products are just for disabled people, which is not true. Everyone can benefit from something being a little easier to use.
So, I started TruRegard to help tackle some of the notions and stigmas surrounding movement limiting conditions, whilst also marketing my products as a solution for everyone, not just for people with disabilities.
How did you design and develop the product?
I started working with the Design Council and Arthritis Research UK to create a product that helps people with arthritis, but also for those without arthritis.
I interviewed 100s of people, including people with arthritis, nurses, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, doctors, researchers and many more.
These wonderful people helped me to understand their world, what they wanted and what they didn’t. They tested ideas and designs, working closely with me to make a design that was for them, by them.
How can the Tru Grip design help disabled people and specifically those with arthritis or limited dexterity?
We have created a beautiful, organic, shaped door handle that supports the wrist and arm to provide a lot of extra leverage and stability.
The unique shape removes stress and strain from the joints and muscles, allowing for a very natural and personal movement that can be used however is needed.
For example, you can use your hand, elbow, forearm, leg, butt, whatever you need.
What reactions have you had from people who have bought your product?
We have been receiving a lot of great feedback from people who have come up with unexpected ways to use the Tru Grip and possible future products they want.
People also love how the handle is perceived by someone who doesn’t know what it is. It means that they can confidently place the Tru Grip on their front door without broadcasting to the world that a person with disabilities lives there.
Also, a parent or child with a disability can have something that works for them without feeling like the rest of the household has to adapt to their needs. It can really work well for everyone and it looks nice too.
What impact has the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown had on you and your business?
The pandemic has been hard for everyone and so many people with conditions have had to be especially cautious. The upheaval that the pandemic has caused has changed so much and TruRegard is no exception.
We were manufacturing in China and sales happened mostly through referrals or in person. As this is not suitable anymore, I have spent lockdown working on new ways to get the handle to people who can benefit from it.
We have managed to start manufacturing in the UK now and I think our sales will excel because of it.
Why did you decide to partner with Disability Horizons and sell through our shop?
One of the reasons we have partnered with Disability Horizons is to become part of this online community, so we can improve and make the Tru Grip even better.
We really love receiving feedback on our products and we always use them to improve our new products. We strive to ensure that our customers are at the centre of our business and our products.
If you have any comments or feedback, please get in touch by emailing email@example.com or direct to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What are your plans for the future or the business, and do you have any new products in the pipeline?
We are excited to say we are working on a number of adaptations to the current Tru Grip. This would allow it to attach to doorknobs, window handles, wheelchair breaks, facets and more.
Soon, we will have a new range of colourful handle grips too. These beautiful handles are professionally coated with a unique abstract marble effect pattern that is truly stunning.
I have learnt so much from TruRegard and from our customers. I am extremely thankful to everyone who has helped us and given feedback.
What advice would you give other entrepreneurs wanting to create a disability-related product?
My top tips for anyone considering creating a new product is to just try. You have nothing to lose. If it doesn’t work, change it and try again.
You don’t have to spend huge amounts of money to create something that can help people. Some people will not like what you have made, but that’s fine.
If it only helps one person for a minute then it’s worth it. You can smile and know that you have made the world a slightly better place and learnt so much along the way. That’s the point of life in my opinion.
By Connor Musoke-Jones
You can buy the Tru Grip now from TruRegard on the Disability Horizons Shop.
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