Experts in disability and sexual pleasure have joined forces to create a new line of sex toys created especially for disabled people.
On this week’s International Day of People with Disability, Handi launched The Handi Book of Love, Lust & Disability, which explores the sex and relationship experiences of disabled people of a range of genders and sexualities.
Sales from the new book will go to developing the new products.
Inclusivity and access
Handi is the brainchild of siblings Andrew Gurza, a queer disability activist and consultant, and Heather Morrison, an innovation strategist.
The pair want to create products for people with a range of issues such as hand limitations.
“So many people with disabilities feel isolated from the sexuality conversation,” Morrison told Pink Advocate.
“A big reason that we created this was to be able to make people feel that they are not alone in these feelings, that other people have been through them before, and to give them a sense of community and knock down some of those walls.”
Morrison said that sex and masturbation are still often seen as taboo, and disabled people are further often misconceived as non-sexual or infantilised.
“The more we can open up the conversation for both able-bodied and disabled people, the more we can start to change those perceptions and show that people with disabilities have sexual needs and feelings, they fall in love and lust, and they have sexual experiences just like all of us do,” she said.
The book includes stories, poems, and art from 50 contributors addressing sex and relationships, from their worst experiences to the best, learning to embrace disability in a sexual context, and even using disability aids as part of sex.
Morrison said that while physical or psychosocial disabilities may inhibit sex, barriers can “create opportunity for creativity”.
She noted that the number of people with acquired disabilities increases substantially with age.
“Doing this work now is also future-proofing our sexuality,” she said.
Gurza, who has cerebral palsy, is a well-known advocate for disability and sexuality issues.
He and Morrison began their business after discussing the problems many people with physical disabilities can have with sex and masturbation, sometimes being dependent on carers for assistance.
Some of the products being considered for development include technologies such as voice control or pressure control for ease of use.
The new line will be created in conjunction with a design team and product testers who are disabled.
“We’re working very closely with the disabled community to make sure it’s designed for them and not just assuming that it’s going to work, making sure that as many people as we can get from the community are involved in the creation,” said Morrison.
Lovehoney Australia director Rob Godwin said the brand is thrilled to be working with Handi to help support sexual wellness for all.
“These products are being designed with and for people with disabilities – not just here’s what we think you should have,” said Godwin.
“They have input from the design and packaging to things like taking the product out of the box and being able to use and clean the products.”
Godwin said that Handi’s book project is “much bigger than the physical book”.
“It’s about opening up the conversation,” he said.
“We want to give people empowerment and confidence to be happy and fulfilled.”
Gender neutral products
Morrison said that Handi aims to make the new range gender neutral.
“The way the current design is looking is that you can select attachments for a penis or vulva or both,” she said.
“From a testing perspective, we’ll also be inviting people to provide feedback to ensure that things like the language as well as the design are as inclusive as possible.”
“We should have been doing this a long time ago,” said Godwin.
“It’s an honour, and it’s what we want to do, to be diverse and inclusive.
“This is a very proud day for Lovehoney Australia.”
The Handi Book of Love, Lust & Disability is available now, with all proceeds going to the development of Handi’s new range, and buyers will receive a 20% discount at Lovehoney.
Pink Advocate received a review copy of The Handi Book for this story.