At Ergohacks we embrace the principles of universal design and believe that everyone, regardless of their differences, deserve equal access and consideration in the design of products, places and services. Our review include a design component where we look at how design and technology has been used to create spaces and things accessible to as many people as possible under as many different circumstances as possible.
We use our icons to highlight any modifications that enhance accessibility. For example, a pencil wouldn’t get an icon for not inducing motion sickness – pencils aren’t exactly well-known for their motion inducing properties, but a game that has been made with special features that reduce the potential for motion sickness will receive it.
Our Access icons do not include lifestyle choices, like being a vegan or vegetarian, but focus on inclusive qualities, like products that are gluten-free and suitable for someone with Coeliacs and places with level access suitable for wheelchair users. For more information about environmental and lifestyle choices, see our Eco icons.
Our inclusive goal is to look at inclusion across the spectrum and so our icons is focused on both sides of the norm. We have an icon for products that are accessible to those with a visual impairment and we also have an icon for products accessible to those with photophobia (light sensitivity).
These are our access icons with an explanation of what they mean:
Ergonomically designed products increase performance by reducing fatigue, pain and discomfort.
We award this icon to products, places and services that embody the iconic features of ergonomics: adjustability to suit different users, contours that support and promote natural movement, avoidance of repetitive movement, awkard positions and vibrating equipment.
Cognitive ergonomics is an emerging branch of ergonomics, particularly relevant to the design of software and technology, that is focused on enhancing cognitive performance.
We also award the icon to products, places and services that support cognitive ergonomics – intuitive and simple design – that makes mental interaction with technology and the environment more comfortable and efficient.
Living with a visual impairment and chronic symptoms that affect vision can be frustrating. We award this icon to products, places and services that make life a little easier.
We do not have the resources to carry out in-depth assessments of products or venues to determine their accessibility for a wide range of visual impairments. In each of our attraction or accommodation reviews, we do add feature icons that indicate basic accessibility – wider passages for users with guide dogs, no overhanging obstructions, but these are only a general indicator of the areas that we have observed.
We use the vision icon to highlight products, places and services that solve problems created by reduced or loss of vision.
Photophobia, a sensitivity to light, is a common symptom of many conditions – migraine, autistic spectrum disorders, cataracts, colour blindness, dyslexia and traumatic brain injury. It can often be treated by addressing the underlying cause, but in cases where this is not possible, it can be a symptom that reduces life quality.
It is not a phobia, but experiencing discomfort or pain when exposed to bright light often accompanied by a burning sensation, tearing, squinting or difficulty keeping your eyes open.
Very bright light, flash, flicker and glare are particularly uncomfortable and those who are significantly affected are often socially excluded from many public spaces that are often brightly lit.
We award this icon to products that help reduce their impact.
Colour blindness is a fairly common hereditary trait, particularly in men. Colour blindness can also be acquired later in life, caused by some conditions, like diabetes, medications or the ageing process.
There are several types – deuteranopia, also known as red/green colour blindness is the most common. Other types include protanopia, tritanopia and achromatopsia (monochromatic vision) extremely rare. Colour blindness occur on a range and those who are mildly affected often don’t even realise that they are colour blind.
Severe colour blindness can have a significant impact on daily living, the Colour blindness awareness association list some common challenges here, which include the inability to tell the difference between red/uncooked and fully cooked meat, unripe and ripe bananas, traffic-light labelling used as a pervasive measurement system, including traffic lights, food products, as an indicator whether a batter is fully charged or running low.
We award the colour blindness icon to products that help to solve problems created by design that uses colour as the only indicator.
Motion sickness is a condition where the visually perceived information does not match up with your proprioception of movement and the symptoms include nausea – eventually leading to vomiting, dizziness and fatigue. Symptoms persist until the cause is removed.
Motion sickness is a common experience for many when traveling. Also known as car sickness, travel sickness, airsickness or sea sickness, it often persists for the duration of the journey.
There are also other triggers including centrifuges – common in theme park rides ,but also simulation sickness induced by watching videos, playing video games and triggered by virtual reality.
Products awarded this icon contains features that remove, reduce or provide a valid alternative to activities or effects that commonly induce motion or simulation sickness.
Hearing loss is a common problem that develop with age or frequent exposure to loud sound. It may be partial or complete, occur in one or both ears and there is a number of causes.
It can have a significant impact on daily living – making it difficult to make voice calls, understanding speech and hearing music or dialogue in media.
We do not have the capacity for comprehensive analysis – accessibility is highly dependent on a combination of factors – a film seen in a particular cinema or during a particular screening will have different features than the same film watched on TV or streamed through a particular service in particular regions.
This icon is is awarded to products and services that have special features help reduce the impact of hearing loss.
Hyperacusis and tinnitus
Hyperacusis is a condition characterized by an increased sensitivity to certain frequency and volume ranges of sound whilst tinnitus is hearing ringing, buzzing, hissing or other sounds when no external sound is actually present.
They are often experienced together, or in conjunction with some hearing loss and when chronic or permanent, can have a significant impact on life quality.
This icon is awarded to products that help reduce the impact of hyperacusis and tinnitus as well as products that produce low or no sound when in operation, like electronic devices with passive or water cooling or particularly quiet fans.
We expect background noise – sounds made by devices we are in close proximity to for long periods of times – to be no louder than a whisper (up to around 30 dB), whilst every day and intermittent sounds we consider suitable would be as loud as a normal conversation (up to around 70 dB). We also supplement the icon with a decibel reading that we take during review.
We have three dietary icons that are awarded to foods and other consumables that contain multiple ingredients/have been heavily processed. The Dairy Free icon is awarded to consumables that are dairy-free as well as places that offer a range of dairy free produce. The Egg Free icon is awarded to consumables that are guaranteed to be egg free.
We award the gluten free icon to consumables that we trust to be gluten-free (20 ppm (= 20 mg/kg) or less). Also awarded to venues who offer a wide selection of gluten-free options.
Certification: Coeliacs UK’s crossed-grain symbol
A nickel allergy is one of the most common causes of allergic contact dermatitis. Once you have a nickel allergy, the only option is to avoid nickel containing metals to avoid symptoms.
Many every day items contain metal and make regular contact with the skin over prolonged time periods: jewellery, watches, metal buttons, buckles, clips in underwear and glasses with metal frames.
Nickel is also found in some mobile devices and prolonged use of a nickel-containing phone without a cover can also trigger symptoms.
We award this icon to clothing and wearables that are nickel free as well as products that can help reduce exposure, such as nickel-free phone and tablet cases and covers.
Fragrance sensitivity, also called perfume intolerance, fragrance allergies, chemical sensitivity is an irritation or an allergic reaction to some chemical, or combination of chemicals, in a product.
Symptoms can be tactile, leading to contact dermatitis, itchy or painful skin where the perfume has made skin contact. It can be respiratory and look like hayfever with itching, sneezing, a runny nose and allergic conjunctivities. It can also trigger asthma attacks or a particularly nasty migraine. For some, it’s all of the above or it may be that different artificial perfumes create different symptoms.
“Fragrance free” labels are not particularly helpful. “Unscented products” are not necessarily fragrance free, sometimes a dampening agent has been added to a chemical cocktail to just suppress any smell. Fragrance mixes are often not disclosed by companies and ingredients lists may only include the word perfume.
Natural isn’t particularly helpful either, as a number of essential oils has been identified* as potential allergens. We do not carry out any testing and cannot in any way guarantee that products are fragrance free. What we can do is check with companies, read ingredients labels and other information provided by companies and give it a good sniff test.
The icon is awarded to products that have little or no smell where we have reliable information that no dampening agent has been used.
Asthma and other respiratory conditions are on the rise. Symptoms range from mild to life threatening and can be periodic or constant.
Triggers that aggravate respiratory symptoms are widespread and common.
This icon is awarded to products, places and services that have incorporated features and taken measures to reduce exposure to common environmental asthma triggers – indoor air quality, pollution, dust and dust mites, animals and pets, smoking and second-hand smoke.
We do not have the resources to carry out in-depth evaluations or any testing – instead focusing our attention on consumer products that can help reduce exposure to triggers.
This icon is awarded to products that help reduce the impact of impaired dexterity.
There are many physical aids on the market, however, our focus is on products that are designed to blend in with everyday life, are cost-effective and utilize current advances in design and technology.
Some products, places and services required a higher than normal level of dexterity or manual skill.
This can be a positive feature, providing a challenge for those that are particularly skilled, or it can be a negative feature for those that are not that skilled and unaware of the requirement.
We award this icon to relevant products to make it clear that it requires a higher level of dexterity. Often these products remain accessible to most, they just require some additional practice to master by inexperienced users.
A good example is drones. Flying is something the average person can do, but it requires a lot of practice to master drone flying and do it very well.
Mobility impairments have many causes and affect different people differently. It can be an invisible disability, restricting a person’s ability to walk long distances or it can be made more visible through the use of mobility aids – crutches, walking sticks and wheelchairs.
Some mobility impairments are permanent with a range of severity, but notot all impairments are constant and unchanging. Some are periodic, some fluctuate with flare ups triggering or exacerbating symptoms. Restriction is sometimes caused by more pervasive symptoms, like pain and severe fatigue.
Mobility impairments can be acquired later in life and mild to moderate impairment is a part of the ageing process.
We award this icons to products that specifically assist those with mobility impairments without segregation or adding additional cost.
It has also been associated with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia. Our hypermobility icon is not a symbol for a specific condition, but symptom specific.
Joint hypermobility is often treated similarly to reduced mobility, but it is a very different problem requiring its own, unique solutions. Those with generalised joint hypermobility benefit from remaining as active as possible, using ergonomically designed products and supporting and strengthening weak joints and muscles.
We award this icon to products that help reduce the impact of generalized joint hypermobility.
Physical ability vary widely between people for many reasons, including age and fitness level. It is difficult to define what would be a physical challenge – it would be different for a 5-year or 35-year old, a marathon runner and someone who is very unfit.
Our definition of a physical challenge is anything that would be difficult to achieve for someone without having done some prior preparation. Walking a mile over flat terrain is something most adults and children over three without a mobility impairment can achieve, but a five mile hike with a steep gradient would be a physical challenge.
We award this icon to products and places that require a basic level of physical fitness to access. It is also awarded to venues that offer the option for or a good selection of active pursuits at a physically challenging level, like hiking, cycling, treetop trails, ambitious water slides and adventure playgrounds.
Everyone has moments of forgetfulness, periods where they struggle to concentrate or focus on a task, remain organized and on schedule. For those with more significant problems, life can become very challenging.
Conditions and symptoms that affect executive functions like planning, problem solving and memory, math and language are wide ranging. Even mild cognitive impairment can have a significant impact on life quality and impact on the ability to carry out day to day tasks.
We award this icon to products that help reduce the impact of memory loss, poor concentration and attention, difficulty planning and strategizing as well as those who support language function.
This icon is awarded to products, places and services that require a higher than normal level of cognitive effort, mental skills or expertise.
Complex, challenging and demanding.
Mental health is an incredible wide scope, however many common mental health conditions have many symptoms in common.
This icon is awarded to products, places and services that support those with or help raise awareness of mental health issues.
For example, games and other media that do not misrepresent, disparage or trivialize mental health and are focused on a realistic representation and in particular on recovery and managing mental health condition.
There are systems in place for media, like PEGI and ESRB ratings, that outline the nature of content in games, TV series and films. We do not flag strong language, graphic violence, nudity or sex as a trigger – that information is readily available via the rating systems mentioned above. We reserve our trigger warning icon for particularly sensitive topics:
- Non-combatant violence: violence related to suicide, sadism, torture, self-harm, sexual (rape/abuse), violence to children and other innocents, taking of hostages, executions.
- Accepted discrimination where racism/sexism/religious persecution is considered a part of the norm or condoned.
- Non-consensual sex, including implied sexual abuse, sexual assault and rape.
- Drug culture and drug addiction.
- Repeated use of derogative bad language and verbal abuse.
- Violent death or threat of death to loved ones.
About Our Design Icons
We cannot make any guarantees. We cannot play every segment of a game, visit every part of a venue at different times of the day to check lighting conditions or inspect kitchens at a restaurant.
Our icons are general guidelines that reflect our perception of the portion of a product, place or service that we encountered in the time we spent with it. It is meant as a general indication and is not specific enough, particularly for anyone with complex requirements. If you are unsure whether a product is suitable for you, we recommend getting in touch with the manufacturer/provider.