I am Eldar. I’m 33 years old and was born in Uzbekistan.
I have cerebral palsy due to a lack of oxygen to my brain during my birth. It makes walking, talking and doing the splits quite a challenge. I am married to Dina, my amazing wife who suffers from the same severe copywriting affliction that I have.
The main problem faced by people with disabilities today is society’s attitude towards us and the lack of integration that results from that. In Israel, only 40% of the disabled population are in paid work and few receive a great education. Disability will only disappear when the world stops seeing disabled people for their disability alone.
I am one of the lucky ones; I have a degree, I work as a copywriter at McCann Tel Aviv and I’m happily married.
However, in my own home I am surrounded by furniture that reminds me on a daily basis of my disability. I cannot open a regular closet, sit on a regular sofa, turn on a regular lamp - everyday activities that most people take for granted are very difficult for me.
As a copywriter working on the IKEA account, it always bothered me that I couldn’t buy IKEA’s furniture like most Israelis I know. I was also familiar with IKEA’s agenda to create a better life for many. But unfortunately for me, I wasn’t the many.
The big idea: create small hacks that attach to IKEA’s products and furniture to make them more accessible to me and the other 10% of the population that suffer from severe disabilities.
After a few days of workshops at IKEA stores with engineers, designers and other people with a variety of disabilities, we came up with a few key ideas such as special handles for the PAX closet, elevating legs for a sofa etc.
The add-ons are designed for a 3D printer so that everyone can print them from anywhere in the world. The idea, expressed by the vision of IKEA, democratises design for all.
We’ve received several positive reactions from people with disabilities. My disabled friends tell me that IKEA's accessible add-ons have helped them to become more independent.
Next to my bed is an IKEA lamp with a big switch. Every night when I turn it off, I remind myself that anything is possible.
Our goal is that this project will continue to expand and all IKEA branches around the world will ultimately have accessible furniture that a person like me - and another 700 million disabled people around the world - will be able to use with the help of these add-ons, without the extortionate price tag usually associated with specialist equipment.
Without a doubt, creativity and technology can improve the quality of life for people with disabilities. Every year, projects and initiatives that improve the situation of disabled people are presented to Cannes Lions juries.
Take me for example: up until 10 years ago I communicated using a spelling board. Technology has since progressed and I can now connect with the world via an iPad. It is this development that has enabled me to write about my experiences and share it across the world for everyone to read my story behind this project.
The award wins are an added bonus!
Eldar Yusupov is a copywriter at McCann Tel Aviv.