SudBud (ongoing)

SudBud is an ongoing project that resulted from a 4-day Design for America leadership studio workshop. As a team of 4 students from different universities, we were tasked with solving a problem within the broader theme of helping individuals with Down syndrome. We followed the Design for America human-centered process to devise our solutions.

We began by conducting secondary research on Down syndrome: trying to find the causes, the difficulties, and understanding what it's like to be someone who has been touched by Down syndrome. We then spoke with multiple individuals and family members of those with Down syndrome, and found that independent living is a large issue. Individuals with Down syndrome become more frustrated that they have to depend on others, even as they grow older, and parents and caretakers find it difficult to feel comfortable letting their children complete daily rituals on their own. One pain point we identified was the shower experience. While showering is something that most of us take for granted, we quickly found that there was a lot of opportunity in that showering is a seemingly simple task that can actually be a frustrating and dangerous experience for someone with Down syndrome. We discovered two things in particular: opening shower product containers was difficult due to problems with fine motor skills, and caretakers are afraid to let their children set the water temperature themselves in fear of scalding. Besides these two steps, most individuals with Down syndrome are able to wash themselves in the shower perfectly. 

Through several iterations, we developed SudBud, a system of shower products that would make it easier for individuals with disabilities to shower, as a step towards developing independent living habits. We developed initial prototypes for a soap dispenser that could simply be pushed down to release soap and does not require opening of small caps, and a water temperature stopper that could be placed on top of water temperature controllers to create a buffer in which the water couldn't be turned past a certain point. 

After conducting initial testing with these prototypes, we realized that something so small could make an impact. Individuals who take care of others with disabilities often have so many things to worry about at once. Providing one activity that their child could feel empowered and confident doing independently would give them one less thing to worry about.


Emma Smith | Communications Design | University of Alabama

Kevin Wang | Mechanical Engineering | UCSD

Callie Gramling Gobes | Interior Design | Virginia Tech

Raissa Xie | Architecture, Psychology | Washington University in St. Louis