Minimising financial and liability risk

Minimising financial risk may be considered to be an overarching generic objective of any business. However, there are perceived barriers for a business to invest in an assistive technology products or services. Young and Sandhu (1990) highlighted some of the issues raised by businesses when considering developing assistive technology products. These included:

  • a disparate and fragmented market.
  • low level investment attracted into a perceived ‘niche market
  • higher litigation risk.
  • multiple stakeholders involved in purchasing.

These concerns are more apparent when enabling sports products, for example, inherently help their user to push themselves to the limits of their abilities, with the associated risk of injury. This compounds the perception of the market having a higher risk of litigation.

Decisions made about the product design specification (PDS) should be based on information or evidence collected. It is important that the emphasis of the product specification and subsequent design is based on the athlete or sportsperson. This is known as evidence-based and user- centred design.  Ergonomics and human factors provide appropriate strategies and methods by which these principles may be implemented, integrated with good design practice.

Most of the elements of a NPD described here lead to reduced cycles of development by providing evidence of the potential need and desirability of the realised product. Threats from litigation can be minimised through rigorous, iterative cycles of evaluation and that products are tested through independent test houses or laboratories to ensure the design audit trail.  Following the guidelines of BS EN ISO 7000-1: 2008 (British Standards Institute 2008) for design and engineering management, in whatever simplified form, is good working practice.  There is also a sub-section relating to design for inclusivity BS EN ISO 7000-6: 2005 (British Standards Institute 2005). Advantages of this practice include:

  • Evidence-based, transparent decision-making within the NPD documented;
  • Enables other or new design team members to have empathy with past design decisions;
  • Demonstrates all due care has been taken in the design, if litigious action taken at a later date;
  • Provides proof of originality in the event of a dispute over intellectual property rights (IPR); and,
  • Enables potential investors to assess the products in which they may invest.

Useful links

British Standards Institute, 2008. BS 7000-1:2008 Design Management Systems. Guide to Managing Innovation, London

British Standards Institute, 2005. BS 7000-6:2008 Design Management Systems. Managing inclusive design Guide, London

Her Majesty’s Government Office, (online), 2015. Product Liability and safety law,, Accessed):[ 23/09/2015]

Torrens, G.E., 2012. Assistive Technology product to Universal design: A way forward, Design For All India, 7 (7), pp.182-205 Available at: (, Accessed:[23/09/2015]

Young C, Sandhu J. 1995. An examination of the British Assistive Technology SME’s and their potential within the single European market, The European context for Assistive Technology, 2nd TIDE Congress, IOS, Oxford. 183-187