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Lawnmowers and Trimmers Features and AT for People with Upper Body and Sensory Impairment

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As society and design moves forward, there is more of a focus on universal design. A product needs to be thoughtfully produced so that ALL members of society can use it in the same manner and without much difficulty. Here we'll look at lawnmowers and trimmers and see how accessible the existing designs are and what assistive technology currently exists.

What Individuals with an Upper Body Impairment Need to Look For

Those that have an upper body impairment (such as fine motor issue, trouble reaching, and lifting) have different needs than people without an impairment. A lawnmower or trimmer needs: 1.To be adjustable in height so that the back is not stressed and bent. 2.Large, easily gripped handles and controls 3.Not be too heavy and difficult to maneuver 4.To be self propelled or eliminate pushing with the upper body

What Individuals with a Sensory Need to Look For

Those that have an upper sensory impairment (such as low vision or blind; hard or hearing or deaf) have different needs than people without an impairment. A lawnmower or trimmer needs: 1.To be able to be programmable or drive itself if the user is blind 2.Large, easily located controls with clear feedback. 3.Points of interaction should be high contrast to aid those with low vision as well as be textured and very obvious. 4.Give clear visual feedback for how well the mower or trimmer is running for those hard of hearing that cannot listen to the motor.

Existing Assistive Technologies

Riding Lawn mower

Already in production for years is the riding lawn mower. It is a quite capable aid to those with upper body impairments, as all that is required of the user is to sit and "drive" the mower like one would a car. There is no physical exertion required, whereas a traditional mower is pushed back and forth over the lawn and up and down inclines.

John Deere Riding Lawnmower (
John Deere Riding Lawnmower (

Remote-Controlled Mower

Another assistive design that has just come out on the market is a remote control lawnmower. This would be a great product for those with upper body or lower impairments, or that just want to have fun doing a chore in a nontraditional manner. Not only is this product fun to use and simply different, but it is also good for the environment and easy to control. The electric motor is controlled with a single joystick. It is also capable ot climbing steep inclines that traditional mowers cannot.

Electric, Remote Controlled Mower (
Electric, Remote Controlled Mower (

Robotic Mower

One more existing technology is the robotic mower. It functions much like the popular robotic vaccum cleaner, the Roomba. It is a great device for those with vision impairments as it does all the work completely on its own. While expensive, this product is completely hands-off and labor free. It even collects grass trimmings!

Robotic Mower (
Robotic Mower (

Special Assistive Technology Brands

There are no existing mowers or trimmers that I came across that were designed specifically to be assistive to those with disabilities. The most assecessible products are those already listed above that were more universally designed and are not specially adapted.


In conclusion, current technology is rapidly approaching true universal design in the field of lawn mowers and trimmers. From push mowers to self propelled to riding to robotic, with each new development products get easier to use and require less physical effort to operate. Right now all that holding the average user back from fantastic universal design is the price tag!

External Links

  • To learn more about hybrid remote control lawn mowers visit -


Disabled World. Sep 22, 2009. Accessed on Oct 26,2009.

Accessed on Oct 27,2009.

Author: Catherine van Dyck