Shoes for Athletes with Disabilities


We are all athletes of some sort, no matter if the sport is extreme or simply climbing stairs. And, every athlete needs gear that fits well and meets their needs. It shouldn’t matter what size, shape, color, or type of athlete one is, or even if the athlete has disabilities or trouble moving. Yet, for the more than 30 million Americans who have trouble walking and climbing stairs, finding athletic shoes that are easy to wear is difficult.

Nike’s new Flyease shoes were designed specifically for people with disabilities. The product, inspired by an early Nike employee who had a stroke, was helped along in design by a young man with cerebral palsy who was not able to tie his own shoes. The new shoe uses a cutting edge, wrap around zipper system that opens at the back of the shoe near the heel. This system makes it easy to slide the foot in and out of the shoe, and it eliminates laces which are a problem for people who have trouble with their hands.

The shoes are available in limited quantities, and Nike is also sending Flyease shoes to two U.S. basketball teams playing in the 2015 Special Olympic World Summer Games.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss innovation and design for products. How should companies work with customers on new products?
  2. The full story and video can be seen at

  1. Discuss social responsibility as related to this case story.
  2. Poll students: are there people in their lives who have disabilities?
  3. Divide students into teams. Have each team select a simple product that causes difficulties for those with disabilities. How can the product be improved to meet their needs?

Source:, Nike

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