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Watering can accessibility

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Watering Cans

Persons with sensory or motor impairments can get a lot out of horticulture. For many people, watering cans are easier to use than watering hoses, which can be heavy and get tangled up. Regardless, there are many watering cans that don’t fit the needs of people with sensory or motor impairments.

Features for People with Sensory Impairment

Watering can with control valve
Watering can with control valve

Cans with control valves

Cans like these control the flow of water by a button placed on the handle where the thumb would be.

Lightweight watering can
Lightweight watering can

Lightweight cans

Cans that are lightweight can benefit those with hearing impairments. Instead of hearing the water flow, the person will be better able to feel the amount of water in the can.

Sugar dispenser is used to illustrate idea of measured pouring
Sugar dispenser is used to illustrate idea of measured pouring

Measured pouring

A watering can that pours out a measured amount of water may help those with a visual impairment significantly. The design can be similar to that of the sugar containers that only pour out a certain amount of sugar at once, and must be pulled back to upright position before pouring again. This process might be able to be automated.

Features for People with Motor Impairment

Cans that are lightweight

Lightweight watering cans help those who do not have a lot of upper body strength. It is good to look for cans that are made of plastic and are slender.

Watering can with large handle
Watering can with large handle

Cans that have large handles

Cans with larger handles may benefit those with little hand mobility. The can shown below is able to be used by slipping the arm through the handles comfortably.

Cans with alternative methods of handling

If a person cannot hold onto the can while watering, other methods of watering may be useful. Examples include:

  • A design that strapped onto the user’s neck or torso would relieve stress on the arms.
  • A small container with a hose may be a design that would relieve weight problems altogether. This type of design can also help an individual reach plants that are too high or too far away.

Cans with alternative pouring methods

The actual movement of pouring may be the issue. If so, perhaps a design where a large button is pressed and water comes out would be an appropriate option.


Author: Sarah Melgen

Universal Design @ Georgia Tech.