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Person with an upper limb difference chopping a potato on a bright green chopping board with a slit in a peg guiding their knife to cut through the middle of the potato.


Empowering those with an Upper Limb difference


PrepMate is a chopping board which aims to empower those with upper limb differences and dexterity impairments to be able to have confidence in the kitchen.

It is estimated that within the UK over 5% of the population have an upper limb difference. For individuals who have an upper limb difference, inaccessibility within the kitchen is unfortunately common and in the case of food preparation usually means the need for pre prepared food or help from others.

With PrepMate we wanted to make cooking more accessible and create a product that could help those with an upper limb difference be able to cook with freedom.

Inclusive supportive features

The development of the PrepMate chopping board predominantly focused upon creating features that would help to make food preparation tasks more accessible for individuals with an upper limb difference.

The main insights gathered from research highlighted that current chopping boards didn't offer much support for holding food in place, would easily move around on a kitchen top surface, and overall weren't predominantly supportive with one arm focused food preparation techniques.

Consequently with user involvement we broke down different food preparation techniques such as chopping, spreading, and dicing to be able to understand what support would be needed for someone with an upper limb difference when using these techniques.

We came up with a range of solutions including the element highlighted in the picture on the right. By having raised supportive walls it helped to make spreading onto bread easier for users by directionally spreading into the corner of the chopping board whilst also acting as a supportive handle and a way of stopping food from unintentionally rolling off the board.

Person spreading butter onto a slice of white bread that is jammed in the corner wall of a choping board.
Desirable Solution

One of the core focuses of PrepMate was to create a desirable product that individuals with an upper limb difference would be proud to have in their kitchen.

We found through user research that users wouldn't buy supportive chopping boards predominantly down to the fact that the aesthetic of their design would massively highlight their disability or lack of cooking ability.

Users wanted a solution that was both functional and could also be desirable enough that even someone without an upper limb difference would want to buy the product.

Green PrepMate chopping board from a birds eye view with spikes in the centre and walls on the left and right handside of the board. Logo saying "PrepMate" at the lower centre of the board.

In depth

User Testing

User Testing and research was carried out over a period of 6 months involving a multitude of participants with upper limb differences and dexterity impairments across the UK and US.

User testing predominantly focused upon testing different potential features for the final design of the chopping board. This helped in assessing the level of inaccessibility with features on current chopping boards and the best solutions for the PrepMate chopping board that users would still find desirable.

Reach were a massively influential stakeholder within the development of PrepMate helping to spread the word about PrepMate's mission as well as getting users involved in research and user testing.

Developing prototypes of chopping boards with different surfaces, spikes, handles, and walls.
Impact of PrepMate

PrepMate was a social enterprise that was run by our founder Robert McKinna through the university society Enactus Loughborough. During Robert's role as director of PrepMate within the years 2020 -2021 Robert created and developed the design of the PrepMate chopping board as shown in the project above alongside utilising help from the PrepMate team to carry out user testing and research.

PrepMate helped to create a signifigant social impact for the upper limb difference community but also helped our founder Robert be able to use his expertise from the project in gaining a placement role at Unilever.

Robert's skillset and the development of PrepMate was captured within his own design video portfolio created in 2021.

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