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Universal Design for Quality of Life Technologies

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2 Author(s)
Steinfeld, E. ; Center for Inclusive Design & Environ. Access (IDEA), State Univ. of New York at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY, USA ; Smith, R.O.

Engineers and other designers commonly use specifications to frame a project's objectives and constraints. These are supplemented by standards, codes, and regulations to create the design package. However, typical design practices often inadvertently ignore the usefulness of the product, environment or information system by people for whom the product would benefit. Consequently, an early design does not work and requires additional iterations and phases of redesign. This drives up the design costs, delays the process, or by tradeoff, prevents individuals with various types of abilities and disabilities to use the design. The universal design approach offers an efficient cost-effective method to expand the population of potential consumers of a product design. Quality of life technologies demand designs that consider populations that are often missed. This paper defines the need for and characteristics of good universal design with illustrations of successful universal product design as well as erred designs that neglected significant populations of potential product users. By definition, quality of life technologies are inclusive, such as aging populations who function with impairments in vision, hearing, and motor abilities. Executing universal design strategies create more successful outcomes.

Published in:

Proceedings of the IEEE  (Volume:100 ,  Issue: 8 )