Design of Products
Universal Design grew out of an effort to include elders and people
with disabilities, it really benefits everyone to some degree. Door
levers, for example, are preferable to knobs for people carrying
packages, just as they are for people with arthritis. Still, much
design practice remains based on military human factors data - a
practice that does not fit the realities of today's population:
is not customary to design for everyone. The few at either end of
the normal curve may be so extreme that an encompassing design could
become too large or expensive to produce. The military chose to
exclude 5% at the small end and 5% at the large end, thus accommodating
90% of the measured population in the Military Standards" (Henry
Dreyfuss Associates, 1993).
many of us conform to the abilities of 90% of the persons in military
service? Product manufactures are just beginning to realize that
their customers are not the average Joe and Josephine (Henry Dreyfuss
Associates, 1967) shown in human factors data and that the "minorities"
at the far ends of the population are significant markets indeed.
Design and You
No One is "Average"
"average" individual is more of a minority than ever before
- designing for the average Joe and Josephine neglects the needs
of everyone who lives long enough to experience functional limitations.
More of us than ever are likely to do so. Regardless of whether
we consider ourselves young or old, able or disabled, each of us
finds the need to adapt to design at some time or another. The beauty
of Universal Design is that we don't have to accept stigma along
with design we can truly use.
Aging in place - with grace
lie about your age - defy it". That's great advice, but a little
difficult to accept, as we struggle to focus on the tiny print on
the side of a child-proof bottle of ibuprofen that requires a child's
dexterity to overcome (Mueller and Mace, 1997). Every one of us
who lives long enough will face changes in mental,
physical, and sensory abilities. Although we can't stop these
changes, we can apply Principles of Universal Design to the environment
around us to allow us to use our abilities to the fullest.
Challenge and Fulfillment
and marketing professionals who have taken the initiative in implementing
Universal Design in their businesses have achieved more
than business success. Universal Design presents a fresh challenge
to senior professionals who feel they have "done it all".
who began the process with some fears about breaking new ground
found it a personally rewarding experience. A vice president of
marketing for Leviton Manufacturing Company, Inc. noted that his
company's efforts had changed his perspective about who his customers
really are: "Universal Design has become an extremely important
idea to us - maybe the most important idea." (Mueller and Ingols,