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Accessible jewellery inspired by student’s cousin

02 August 2021

A student who has a cousin with cerebral palsy was inspired to create a jewellery range to support people who experience difficulties fastening items such as necklaces.

Imani Hafeez, 21, created her brand ‘Align’ as a way to make jewellery more accessible for people who may need support with their fine motor skills.

“People with conditions such as cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s disease or arthritis may feel as though they’ve been designed out of wearing some items of jewellery,” said Imani, who is studying BA Product Design at Nottingham Trent University.

“Many necklaces or bracelets, for instance, feature tiny clasps which are impossible for many disabled people to fasten or undo without help from someone else.

“It can mean that some people with special requirements may be put off buying jewellery altogether or have to depend on somebody else to put jewellery on and remove it for them.

“But with just a few inclusive designs it’s perfectly possible for them to do this for themselves, giving them a greater degree of independence.”

As part of her range, Imani has pioneered a magnetic clasp that features two grooves to hold the magnets in place and makes the wearer feel more secure that the necklace is locked properly.

Other designs in her range include:

• A claspless necklace which is available in various lengths, all of which are large enough to fit over a person’s head
• A toggle bar clasp, which is a less fiddly way to secure a necklace together than a traditional necklace clasp 
• An adapter which can be retrofitted to existing jewellery to allow accessible clasps to be used
• Bracelets which are designed to be rotated when the wearer puts them on, in order to navigate them around the wrist without need for a clasp

“Putting on jewellery by yourself is an experience which most people take for granted,” said Imani, who is originally from Leamington Spa.

“But the value of someone with cerebral palsy, for example, doing this for themselves should not be underestimated.

“By designing jewellery products in an accessible way, it will allow people with a range of conditions feel more independent.

“So, I genuinely hope that these products can contribute towards some disabled people having improved wellbeing.”

Imani’s designs are on show for Nottingham Trent University’s Summer Show, which sees graduating artists and designers displaying their work as part of an online public exhibition. Imani’s working prototypes can be seen alongside that of other product design students on www.ntudesignindustries.com.

Grant Baker, Senior Lecturer in Product Design at Nottingham Trent University, said: “Imani has seen from the experiences of a close family member how people with a disability can be designed out wearing products such as jewellery.

“But by applying just a few simple design principles she has proved how easy it can be for items such as necklaces to be enjoyed by everybody, without anyone requiring any assistance from other people.”


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