Thursday, November 12, 2009

Arthritis Foundation’s Ease-of-Use Program Identifies Universal Accessibility of Consumer Products and Packaging

Today’s tamper-resistant packaging, child-proof bottles and unwieldy kitchen tools may leave people wondering why companies make “unfriendly” products. All of these products serve a purpose, but many people – especially the 46 million Americans with arthritis – yearn to find easy-to-open medications and household or office supplies that simply make daily tasks less painful and more manageable. The Arthritis Foundation’s Ease-of-Use program encourages manufacturers to design user-friendly products and packing, and nearly 100 products carry the Arthritis Foundation Ease-of-Use Commendation logo.

As the nation’s most common cause of disability, arthritis is an extremely debilitating disease that can affect every aspect of everyday tasks. One in five Americans live each day with the aches and pains of arthritis, which makes even the simplest aspects of life difficult. Arthritis is a disease that affects 46 million adults and nearly 300,000 children. Arthritis is a more frequent cause of activity limitation than heart disease, cancer or diabetes, resulting in more than 19 million people with activity limitations each year.

Products endorsed by the Arthritis Foundation’s Ease-of-Use Commendation Program are universally accessible, which means that the products don’t have to be specially designed for people with a disability, but they should be designed in way that all consumers can use them. Through its Ease-of-Use Program, the Arthritis Foundation recognizes products that meet strict criteria and prove to be easy-to-use.

“Arthritis is a debilitating disease that impacts the lives of millions of Americans,” said Pat Gottfried, president of the Arthritis Foundation, Rocky Mountain Chapter. “The Arthritis Foundation wants those facing these conditions to understand that there are solutions to help.”

All Ease-of-Use products must pass a rigorous evaluation process by experts in universal design at the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI). The scientists conduct tests to determine if the products are easy-to-use for someone with arthritis. In addition, this evaluation includes testing by people living with arthritis.

While the testing process for the commendation involves hands-on testing by people with arthritis, all consumers should find the products easier to use. This universal accessibility is the goal of the Ease-of-Use Program.

Once a product receives a passing evaluation, it then becomes eligible for the program. To date, several products have received the Ease-of-Use Commendation and have been approved to carry the Arthritis Foundation Ease-of-Use Commendation logo.

To learn more about the Ease-of-Use Program or for a complete list of products, visit the Arthritis Foundation Web site at

Friday, November 6, 2009

Economy and Challenges

Recently, I was talking with some local college students about the economy and the challenges that we see in raising financial support for the Arthritis Foundation. The discussion moved to the shift in people's priorities due to the current downturns. In the back of my mind, I had an internal dialogue going about how these fiscal changes might benefit non-profit organizations in the future. It might be wishful thinking to say it out loud, but my hope is that the shift in people's priorities about their own lives can extend to the priorities of their corporate roles in the community. Businesses are made up of giving people, and giving people give to other people and so on. We are pleased to work with some great corporate partners each year and thank them for their generosity. Without the support of these generous stewards, our mission delivery would be greatly challenged. In the future, my dream is to see more companies invest in the valuable work of community organizations and grow a stronger “economy” of caring services for those in need. We always welcome your suggestions and referrals to build new partnerships. Feel free to contact Todd McPherson, Director of Corporate Development, ( or (303)756-8622 x245) with your ideas.