Designing your social object: The principles of designing for your user
1. UNIVERSAL DESIGN
Universal design is the design of buildings, products or environments to make them accessible to all people, regardless of age, disability or other factors.
The term "universal design" was coined by the architect Ronald Mace to describe the concept of designing all products and the built environment to be aesthetic and usable to the greatest extent possible by everyone, regardless of their age, ability, or status in life. However, it was the work of Selwyn Goldsmith, author of Designing for the Disabled (1963), who really pioneered the concept of free access for people with disabilities. His most significant achievement was the creation of the dropped curb – now a standard feature of the built environment.
Universal design emerged from slightly earlier barrier-free concepts, the broader accessibility movement, and adaptive and assistive technology and also seeks to blend aesthetics into these core considerations. As life expectancy rises and modern medicine increases the survival rate of those with significant injuries, illnesses, and birth defects, there is a growing interest in universal design. There are many industries in which universal design is having strong market penetration but there are many others in which it has not yet been adopted to any great extent. Universal design is also being applied to the design of technology, instruction, services, and other products and environments.
Curb cuts or sidewalk ramps, essential for people in wheelchairs but also used by all, are a common example. Color-contrast dishware with steep sides that assists those with visual or dexterity problems are another. There are also cabinets with pull-out shelves, kitchen counters at several heights to accommodate different tasks and postures, and, amidst many of the world's public transit systems, low-floor buses that "kneel" (bring their front end to ground level to eliminate gap) and/or are equipped with ramps rather than on-board lifts.
1.1 The 7 Principles of Universal Design
The 7 Principles of Universal Design were developed in 1997 by a working group of architects, product designers, engineers and environmental design researchers, led by the late Ronald Mace in the North Carolina State University. The purpose of the Principles is to guide the design of environments, products and communications. According to the Center for Universal Design in NCSU, the Principles "may be applied to evaluate existing designs, guide the design process and educate both designers and consumers about the characteristics of more usable products and environments."
Principle 1: Equitable Use: The design is useful and marketable to people with diverse abilities.
1a. Provide the same means of use for all users: identical whenever possible; equivalent when not.
1b. Avoid segregating or stigmatizing any users.
1c. Provisions for privacy, security, and safety should be equally available to all users.
1d. Make the design appealing to all users.
Principle 2: Flexibility in Use: The design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities.
2a. Provide choice in methods of use.
2b. Accommodate right- or left-handed access and use.
2c. Facilitate the user's accuracy and precision.
2d. Provide adaptability to the user's pace.
Principle 3: Simple and Intuitive Use: Use of the design is easy to understand, regardless of the user's experience, knowledge, language skills, or current concentration level.
3a. Eliminate unnecessary complexity.
3b. Be consistent with user expectations and intuition.
3c. Accommodate a wide range of literacy and language skills.
3d. Arrange information consistent with its importance.
3e. Provide effective prompting and feedback during and after task completion.
Principle 4: Perceptible Information: The design communicates necessary information effectively to the user, regardless of ambient conditions or the user's sensory abilities.
4a. Use different modes (pictorial, verbal, tactile) for redundant presentation of essential information.
4b. Provide adequate contrast between essential information and its surroundings.
4c. Maximize "legibility" of essential information.
4d. Differentiate elements in ways that can be described (i.e., make it easy to give instructions or directions).
4e. Provide compatibility with a variety of techniques or devices used by people with sensory limitations.
Principle 5: Tolerance for Error: The design minimizes hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintended actions.
5a. Arrange elements to minimize hazards and errors: most used elements, most accessible; hazardous elements eliminated, isolated, or shielded.
5b. Provide warnings of hazards and errors.
5c. Provide fail safe features.
5d. Discourage unconscious action in tasks that require vigilance.
Principle 6: Low Physical Effort: The design can be used efficiently and comfortably and with a minimum of fatigue.
6a. Allow user to maintain a neutral body position.
6b. Use reasonable operating forces.
6c. Minimize repetitive actions.
6d. Minimize sustained physical effort.
Principle 7: Size and Space for Approach and Use: Appropriate size and space is provided for approach, reach, manipulation, and use regardless of user's body size, posture, or mobility.
7a. Provide a clear line of sight to important elements for any seated or standing user.
7b. Make reach to all components comfortable for any seated or standing user.
7c. Accommodate variations in hand and grip size.
7d. Provide adequate space for the use of assistive devices or personal assistance.
1.2 Examples of Universal Design
OXO Good Grips
The OXO "Good Grips"
range of kitchen utensils began with a goal: to produce a vegetable peeler that
was easy to hold and use, regardless of strength or manual dexterity. This
resulted in OXO applying a universal design approach when designing any of
their kitchen products.
Oven with Liftmatic Door
The oven is installed on the wall above the counter. When it is opened, the oven floor can be lowered electronically right down to the counter. This makes it very easy to put things into the oven. The floor surface is made of glass ceramics and can also be used as a warming zone.
Fold-Away Oven Door
The 'slide and hide' features of
this constructa-neff oven enable the door to be tucked away underneath the
oven, providing barrier-free access to the oven. The pull-out trays are fully
self-supporting, and thus don't require the user to keep a hand on the tray at
Pop Food Storage
The container can be easily
opened and closed by simply pressing an extra-large button on the lid. After
the container has been opened, the button can also be used as a large simple
Lavabomobile is a washbasin that
can be electronically adjusted. Its design makes it convenient for wheelchair
users to use as well people of smaller stature, children or anyone wishing to
the washbasin while sitting down. It also travels to a higher position to ease
access for taller standing users.
The large lcd display makes it
easy to read the temperature. The large, flat shape of the probe enables it to
be held stably in the armpit. This provides a more usable design for everyone,
from small children, who can't sit still, to older people, who may have trouble
reading a small display.
The 161x161x32-mm sized m-smart
jumbo switch is a highly visible switch for your whole hand or other operation.
It is potentially suitable for use in public environments such a seniors'
residences, hospitals, kindergartens and rehab centres.
A perforation on the packaging
of this Panasonic battery pack means the batteries are easy to remove. The word
"new" is printed on the plastic so that it is easy to tell the old
from the new batteries.
Hearing Aid Battery
Part of the packaging is formed as a flap creating a handle for the small battery. When the flap is broken off, the battery can be removed and easily inserted into the hearing aid. The packages are colour-coded to identify the battery sizes.