Time to Redefine 'Disabled' Design

Accessible design leads to better products for everyone
By Laila Weir,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 2, 2008 10:14 AM CST
Time to Redefine 'Disabled' Design
Miroslava Sekaninova from Slovakia helps her partner Jan Puchein during the 2008 Wheelchair Dance Sport World Championships, Oct. 25, 2008.   (AP Photo)

The world is long overdue for a major change in how devices for the disabled are both perceived and designed, an industry leader says. In fact, it's time to stop designing disabled-access items altogether, Northwestern professor and author Don Norman tells CNN. Why not just make it so showers, baths, toilets, etc., can be used by everyone? “Designing for people with disabilities almost always leads to products that work better for everyone."

An example of such “accessible design” is the “Universal Toilet,” created by two Korean designers, which both the disabled and the general public can use. Norman, who also complains that wheelchairs, walkers, and the like are "ugly," said that designers and companies need to become more aware of disabled users’ needs: “The first step is education, awareness, and empathy." (More product design stories.)

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