Spotlight on: The Research Institute for Disabled Consumers (RiDC)
20 February 2022inclusioninvolvement
Shaping Our Lives focuses on inclusive involvement, especially when it comes to services, like health and social care, and research studies. But what about consumer products, the things we buy in shops, the technology we use, the cars we drive, and the holidays we take? RiDC ensures that disabled and older consumers are heard by companies and brands who want to make sure their products and services are accessible and inclusive.
In this guest post, we hear from RiDC’s CEO Gordon McCullough and some of RiDC’s consumer panel members.
The Research Institute for Disabled Consumers (RiDC) is a UK charity providing independent research to create accessible and inclusive products and services. As an organisation led by disabled people, it matters to us that the insights from older and disabled consumers are listened to.
Now, perhaps more than ever, we need to make sure that the voices of those most under-represented are heard by organisations that design and deliver the products and services that we all use.
Our panel is open to anyone who identifies as being disabled (which includes those living with physical or mental health conditions) and older people.
It’s free to sign up and many find it a rewarding experience. Once signed up, you do not have to take part in any research you don’t want to, but will be contacted to see if you want to take part.
Some of our most recent panel research has looked at people’s experiences during events like the pandemic and the cost of living crisis and shows they are invariably hit hardest. This is why their views must be represented.
Members find it interesting and gain a great deal from having their say and making their views and experiences count.
I’ve been able to find my voice and speak out for myself
RiDC panel member Nom, aged 30, found out about the RiDC consumer panel last year when she got a new car through the Motability Scheme and followed a link to some upcoming research on the website. She was pleasantly surprised to find an organisation fighting for the rights of the disabled community.
“As a disabled person you can feel cast aside by society, so it’s good to realise that there are organisations like RiDC working on our behalf. I was touched and remember thinking to myself that I wanted to get involved. I’ve taken part in just about every piece of research since!” says Nom.
This has included research looking at product packaging and the accessibility of charging points for electric cars, which is currently very poor.
“I’m in a lucky position. I’ve been able to find my voice and speak out for myself. Taking part in the RiDC research panel is part of that for me.”
“I feel great knowing I’ve played a part in something that might help me and the disabled community. We have to be on the front line because sometimes people don’t know we have a need until we tell them and that in itself is us doing something great!”
Being on the panel gives me more knowledge and experience
Aamir, 31, from London has been a member of the RiDC panel for many years, and taken part in research projects including bus and rail transport, technology and hubs for the visually impaired.
Aamir enjoys the variety of projects that being on the RiDC Consumer Panel offers and the chance to make improvements:
“Being on the panel also gives me more knowledge and experience trying new products and services. I get to meet other people, and sometimes there is a reward to compensate me for my time. It’s a good experience to get involved.”
It’s important that disabled consumers share their experiences
Allan, aged 71, has been a member of the RiDC panel for many years, and has taken part in surveys, user testing and mystery shopping research with us.
“When I hear disabled people talk about something – a service, equipment, holiday booking, I take much more notice. It has more credibility, and weight. As people living with a disability, we are best placed to comment. We are dealing with challenges every day of our lives and are so used to inventing ‘workarounds’. I often say we are the best problem solvers in the world!”
Allan recently took part in user testing of shampoo packaging – looking at various brands and assessing them from their grip to dispensing.
“It made me think ‘this could be improved’. Not just for me, but for non-disabled people too. If you can make it better for everyone, why not do it?”
How do I become a member of the consumer panel?
You can sign up online or over the phone with our research team. It takes around 15 minutes, and we’ll ask some questions so we can match you to the most appropriate research opportunities.
Or by calling 020 7427 2460 (leave a message with your number and we will call you back to go through the form).
You can also email us at email@example.com to organise a convenient time to speak.
Help spread the word about the consumer panel
There are free resources to help spread the word and encourage more people to become part of the consumer panel.