ChapterPDF Available

Universal design: Empathy and affinity


Abstract and Figures

Why is it important for a designer to realize products and services for people who are elderly and/or disabled? The answer to this question may be provided by the author’s own decision to work in this field. As a young designer in the 1980s, he wanted to make a difference to the quality of life of those in his society. On review of areas within which one could work, it was clear that medical or rehabilitation technology/assistive technology (RT/AT) product design would make the greatest impact on the target user’s quality of life. Papanek (1974) advocated these areas as ones in which designers should aspire to work; he was many years ahead of the design establishment. From a societal viewpoint, using technology to enable people to be more independent and engage with society increases the potential help that finite resources can provide within a provision of care. It also facilitates the empowerment of an individual, enhancing their personal esteem, and supporting well-being. Over the last 20 years, the author has designed enabling products for people who are elderly and those who have some form of impairment.
Content may be subject to copyright.
16 Universal Design:
Empathy and Affinity
George Edward Torrens
Why is it important for a designer to realize products and services for people who are elderly and/
or disabled? The answer to this question may be provided by the author’s own decision to work in
this eld. As a young designer in the 1980s, he wanted to make a difference to the quality of life
of those in his society. On review of areas within which one could work, it was clear that medical
16.1 Introduction ..........................................................................................................................233
16.1.1 Denitions Relating to Function and Disability .......................................................234
16.1.2 Denitions Relating to Design ..................................................................................234
16.2 Know Your Market: Some of the Challenges ....................................................................... 235
16.2.1 Market Size and Implications for a New Product Development .............................. 236
16.2.2 Implications of Market Characteristics for a New Product Development ................ 236
16.3 Know Your User: Ways of Gaining Empathy and an Afnity .............................................237
16.3.1 Identifying Your Target User .................................................................................... 237
16.3.2 Empathic Modeling of Your End User .....................................................................238 Predictive Modeling ................................................................................... 239 Empathic Modeling....................................................................................239 Mixed Methods Research ..........................................................................240 Product/Cultural Probes ............................................................................240 Product “Champion” .................................................................................. 241
16.3.3 Stakeholders .............................................................................................................. 241 Grounded Theory ....................................................................................... 242 Focus Group ...............................................................................................242 Participatory Research ...............................................................................242
16.3.4 Ethics ........................................................................................................................242
16.3.5 Strategies for Design .................................................................................................242
16.3.6 Participatory Design .................................................................................................243
16.3.7 Co-designing ............................................................................................................. 243
16.3.8 Design Heuristics ...................................................................................................... 243 Persona Footprint ....................................................................................... 244 Adaptability and Flexibility (Standardization and Modularity) ................244 Use of Original Equipment Manufacturer Parts ........................................ 245 Customized Interfaces and Rapid Manufacturing .....................................245 Minimize Financial and Liability Risk ..................................................... 245
16.3.9 Increasing Your Target Market: Matching Product Design Specication ................245
16.4 Conclusion ............................................................................................................................246
References ...................................................................................................................................... 247
46284_C016.indd 233 14/12/10 8:20 PM
234 Human Factors and Ergonomics in Consumer Product Design: Methods and Techniques
or rehabilitation technology/assistive technology (RT/AT) product design would make the greatest
impact on the target user’s quality of life. Papanek (1974) advocated these areas as ones in which
designers should aspire to work; he was many years ahead of the design establishment. From a
societal viewpoint, using technology to enable people to be more independent and engage with
society increases the potential help that nite resources can provide within a provision of care. It
also facilitates the empowerment of an individual, enhancing their personal esteem, and supporting
well-being. Over the last 20 years, the author has designed enabling products for people who are
elderly and those who have some form of impairment.
16.1.1  Definitions Relatingto functionanD Disability
It may be worthwhile, at this point, dening impairment, disability, and handicap. Within the index
of USERt, Poulson et al. (1996) dened the three terms as:
Impairment: A loss or abnormality of psychological, physiological or anatomical structure or
Disability: A restriction or lack (resulting from impairment) of the ability to perform an activity
in the manner or within the range considered normal for a human being.
Handicap: A disadvantage for a given individual, resulting from an impairment or disability,
which limits the fullment of a role that is normal (depending on age, sex and social and cultural
factors) for that individual. (sic)
The World Health Organization (WHO) has now redened its method of classication into
a more comprehensive, but complex system of classication. The International Classication of
Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) uses three separate health and health-related domains
within which detailed classication is dened. The reason for the change to a more complex deni-
tion may be, in part, indicated through the following quote from the WHO website:
Disability is not something that only happens to a minority of humanity. The ICF thus ‘mainstreams’
the experience of disability and recognises it as a universal human experience. (WHO 2010)
It would seem that the WHO is trying to remodel both the philosophy and terminology they
use to help facilitate a more inclusive perception of people with an impairment or who may be
elderly. The denitions stated in USERt are those dened by the WHO from 1980; while now
superseded, they offer a simplied introduction to the basic terminology used within this eld
of design.
In this chapter, strategies and methods are discussed by which designers may work viably and
effectively in this challenging, yet rewarding eld of product design. The focus of the information
given will be around human-scale product design; however, most of the strategies and methods
advocated are applicable to interior, architecture, and engineering design. The main discussion and
examples will be around more severely impaired people, to highlight the efcacy of the research
methods and design processes advocated. The same methods and processes may be applied to
mainstream product design.
16.1.2  Definitions Relatingto Design
The suggested ways of working and the examples provided are from the context of health and social
care given within the UK. Additional comments may be given to highlight that the supports systems
and nancial structures of other countries will affect how the suggested methods may be applied.
The overarching principles within which these strategies and design methods are used are that
they are both user centered (centric), and evidence-based decision making. Based on the author’s
46284_C016.indd 234 14/12/10 8:20 PM
Universal Design: Empathy and Affinity 235
experience, the nal outcome is dependent on the quality of the information used to make design
Before explaining further about the specic demands and challenges facing designers, a working
denition is required of the terms product designer, industrial designer, and universal design. The
denition used for many years by the author with undergraduate students is given as:
An industrial designer produces the social and cultural functionality of a product within the constraints
of manufacture and cost.
This denition clearly places the responsibility for the realization of desirability and or accep-
tance of a product by the stakeholders and target user onto the industrial designer. The constraints
within which a product design may be realized include “tness for purpose” and applies to the
more complete product design specication (PDS). The PDS includes safety and industry standards
alongside other constraints such as sustainability of the design.
The term universal design has been dened by Christophersen and Norske stats husbank (2002) as:
The Design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible,
without adaption or specialized design (sic).
In addition, there are seven principles promoted by Christophersen, together with the denition
of inclusive design; they are:
1. Equitable use
2. Flexibility in use
3. Simple and intuitive use
4. Perceptible information
5. Tolerance for error
6. Low physical effort
7. Size and space for approach and use
Inclusive design is predominantly used within the UK to describe similar aspirations for the
values underpinning a chosen design process. Internationally, there are many other titles given to
this eld of new product development (NPD): design for all; transgenerational design; design for the
third age; and barrier-free design.
Now that denitions are in place within which the principles described may be applied, attention
should be turned to the strategies and design tools available for use within this eld, highlighting
those that the author has found to provide effective results and to be most cost effective. Efcacy is
often considered within healthcare and for a designer or team to provide metrics and evidence of
efcacy of the new product or service is vital for success in this conservative market. These tools
are applied within an activity pattern constrained by time and resources, as shown in Figure 16.1.
Although only one route for an iterative cycle has been shown, reection and revisiting will happen
throughout the process. The number of iterative cycles that may be undertaken is constrained by
time and resources.
The author’s experience is that the quality of information available to a designer will have a direct
inuence on the quality of decisions and subsequent design outcomes produced, no matter how
thorough and rigorous a design process may be applied. To paraphrase a commonly used statement
within design circles: the quality of the information will lead to the design of the “right” thing. The
latter half of this chapter will exemplify how to design the thing “right.”
46284_C016.indd 235 14/12/10 8:20 PM
236 Human Factors and Ergonomics in Consumer Product Design: Methods and Techniques
16.2.1  MaRket sizeanD iMplicationsfoRa new pRoDuct DevelopMent
As a starting point for any NPD, a designer must know the size and characteristics of their target
market; these will inuence the choice of manufacturing processes and materials constraints. For
example, if a one-off customized seat unit is produced for an individual, vacuum forming of poly-
mer sheet and hand nishing may be used; cutlery for people with a weak grip and limited dexterity,
which is a much larger market, would require large batch quantity production methods such as steel
pressing and polymer injection molding. The size of a target market can be gained from a number
of sources: social science and ethnographic academic surveys; charitable support groups; market
research surveys; and government census.
UK statistics from the Ofce for National Statistics (OSN) indicate that the population is get-
ting older, with the proportion of the population over the age of 65 being more than 14% by 2011
(Her Majesty’s Government 2010a). The current population has risen to over 60 million. In the mid
1990s, Sandhu et al. reported that the proportion of people within European countries who are reg-
istered as disabled is approximately 11% of the total population (Sandhu 1995). Figure 16.2 shows
the proportion of adults and children in 2007 that were registered as disabled in the UK against
the total population. The chart was compiled from data available from the OSN (Her Majesty’s
Government 2010b, 2010c) and the Ofce for Disability Issues (Her Majesty’s Government 2010d).
These current gures indicate that the percentage of the population who have a recognized disabil-
ity is now over 16% of the population. However, based on part of the European statistics collated by
Sandhu et al., the breakdown of different groups within the UK population shows that most target
markets are “niche.” Although the target end users may be potentially in the hundred thousands,
they are spread across the UK.
What must be kept in mind is that population demographics change, often rapidly. Regular
updates of source data are vital to ensuring that the optimum information relating to a population is
available against which a target user is matched.
16.2.2  iMplicationsof MaRket chaRacteRisticsfoRa new pRoDuct DevelopMent
The allure for companies to exploit this large proportion of their market is offset by the challenges
faced. The utopian ideals of the seven principles of universal design are difcult to implement. The
RT/AT market is fragmented, with people having a wide range of very individual needs. While most
people in this target market have common human aspirations to engage with everyday activities of
Brief Research
FIGURE 16.1  The double diamond of research and design activity within an NPD; constrained by time and
AU: ‘Sandhu et al’
Not listed i n refer-
ence sect ion. AU: ‘Sandhu’ Not
listed i n reference
AU: ‘against the
total po pulation’
AU: ‘Sandhu et
al.,’ Not listed i n
reference se ction.?
46284_C016.indd 236 14/12/10 8:20 PM
Universal Design: Empathy and Affinity 237
daily living (ADLs), their needs for physical or cognitive support from technology are very specic
and wide ranging. The resulting niche markets often do not provide a viable return on the invest-
ment required to effectively undertake research and development of new RT/AT products. There
may also be a perceived higher risk of litigation with possible unforeseen consequences of a new
product in this marketplace, due to the end user/consumer’s already vulnerable physical or cogni-
tive state.
There is the added complexity of state or charitable support that may augment any funds that
the individual or family may have, in order to purchase and access the product. Multiple stakehold-
ers, who inuence the purchasing decision, are often healthcare professionals or state budget hold-
ers. These supporting professionals, who are also advocates of the end user of the product, have
demanding measures that the product has to attain before they will agree to release funds. New
product suppliers may also have to be registered with the state or non-government organization
(NGO) involved before their product may be purchased.
Characterization of the target market and the context within which products or services will be
purchased may be considered as user, task, and environment (UTE) (see Figure 16.3). The example
shown is of a “UTE mind-map” of the factors concerning the redesign of a powered wheelchair for
a young woman with cerebral palsy.
Some of the challenges faced by new product developers have been detailed. Strategies and meth-
ods will now be described that enable designers to provide viable new products for this market. These
processes may be considered to be just good design practice. They apply principles from human fac-
tors and ergonomics; address specic medical constraints for that associated condition; and satisfy
the end users aspirations that may be in the form of desires for, or acceptance of, the product design.
This section will signpost the reader toward resources that will enable a designer to populate the
contextual landscape, shown in Figure 16.3. It will also describe how able-bodied designers can
gain some empathy with their end user along with an afnity with their more subtle emotional
needs, values, and aspirations.
16.3.1  iDentifying youR taRget useR
It has been identied that a good working knowledge of the context within which purchasing deci-
sions are made, as well as market size are required. While a literature review is a good starting point,
identifying the associated medical denition of a target users’ condition will enable a designer to gain
some insight into the generic issues associated with it; which will then focus the proposed research
Population UK 2007 60.9 million
FIGURE 16.2  The prevalence of adults and children within the UK that are registered with a disability.
(Based on data from the Ofce of National Statistics, and Ofce for Disability Issues, 2010). AU: ‘Based on
data’ thi s source
is not include d in
the referen ce list.
46284_C016.indd 237 14/12/10 8:20 PM
238 Human Factors and Ergonomics in Consumer Product Design: Methods and Techniques
questions that drive a literature review. In the UK, there are associated support groups alongside
dened medical conditions. The medical diagnosis and care regimes published in healthcare jour-
nals; characterization of the condition and associated information produced by support groups pro-
vides good background knowledge to the functional and physiological requirements of this target
market. There may be associated medical conditions that present themselves within the end user as a
compound impairment or disability. The detail within the information about a given medical condi-
tion also provides an awareness of the liability implications when considering product usage.
For example, a relatively large population of those registered in the UK as disabled with upper
limb impairment, limited grip, or mobility have a form of arthritis. Understanding the characteristics
of the condition, whether rheumatoid or osteoarthritis for example, will affect the nal design. Each
condition has a particular prole or persona associated with it. In the UK, osteoarthritis is often
associated with older people, over 65 years old; with a larger proportion being female; and wear
related. Rheumatoid arthritis affects a much wider age range, even children, and is characterized
by episodic inammation of the joints. The former will result in physically “stiff” joints; the later in
“loose” joints. The optimum grip and associated characteristics of the product will be different for
each condition, i.e., the optimum handle shape and covering material will be different. The challenge
of widening the market for a niche market product will be addressed at the end of this chapter.
Dening a target market via the medical condition does enable cross-referencing world-wide
cross-referencing; many of the associated support groups have equivalent organizations to those
in the UK; and government statistical surveys may have equivalent data to those provided by the
National Statistics Ofce (NSO).
16.3.2  eMpathic MoDelingof youR enD useR
Once focused on a target market and the related medical condition is identied, it will be possible to
dene the associated lifestyle and user characteristics of people within the target market. Gaining
eating mobility
secondary teaching
Carers tasks
24 hr socialising
24 hr care/
Her tasks
difficult education
Rest bite
for carees
getting out
day &
night Wheelchair
xxxx for
her need
Does she
stay here?
FIGURE 16.3  A mind map of the relationship between the user, task, and environment within the context of
daily living activities of a wheelchair user. (Produced by S.M.D. Allen, J.L. Day, R. Rishikesh Hanumant, L.
Gallimore, D. Johnson, and D. Milner, Loughborough University, 2010.)
AU: ‘cross-refer-
encing world-wid e
cross-refe rencing’
or ‘world-wide
AU: Text not clea r
in review ar t
AU: ‘Produced’
This sou rce is not
included i n the
reference l ist.
46284_C016.indd 238 14/12/10 8:20 PM
Universal Design: Empathy and Affinity 239
an afnity with the emotional needs and aspirations of a target user is then possible from the dened
age, gender, and lifestyle. Methods by which a designer or team may gain empathy with some of the
constraints on ADL are:
Predictive modeling
Empathic modeling (replicating the physical elements of a medical condition)
Mixed methods research
Product/cultural probes
Product champion  Predictive Modeling
Predictive modeling is applying existing knowledge about a target UTE, accessed through both
generic and specic databases and design guides.
There are many such modeling databases that often include descriptions of research methods by
which the data may be updated. Paper-based tools and databases include USERt (Poulson 1995)
and Inclusive guidelines (Keates 2004). Computer-based predictive modeling has also been devel-
oped to enable more intuitive use. The Inclusive Design Tool Kit (Engineering Design Centre 2010),
an internet database and methods guide is an intermediate to the software-based analysis tools
shown in USERt. Generic anthropometric databases, such as PEOPLEsize (Open Ergonomics
2010), support specic guidelines and tools. Software tools such as SAMMIE (Loughborough
University 2010) provide physical ergonomics-based data, mainly for spatial accessibility and
usability, the specication for which is imported into the software. HADRIAN (Porter et al. 2004)
is an advance on the anthropometric-based design tools and databases such that it integrates the best
of these elements. The software provides an information-rich interface for performance information
collected from real people with dened medical conditions. Other chapters in this book provide
more in-depth detail about SAMMIE and HADRIAN.
While these databases provide a very useful starting point to gain empathy with a target user,
they are limited in the number of components they capture. An advantage that systems such as
HADRIAN have is that they enable a cost-effective way for designers to match a target market with
a clear population size and associated characteristics envelope.  Empathic Modeling
Empathic modeling is a well-used method through which designers can gain some experience of
the constraints of a dened medical condition that manifests itself in a form of impairment. There
are a number of proprietary “suits,” such as the Third Age suit (Ergonomics and Safety Research
Institute 2010) that can be manipulated to restrict movement, sight, or hearing. A low cost way in
which designers can replicate such impairments through the use of hockey goalkeeper’s protective
equipment and modication of protective goggles has been documented by the author (Torrens
2000) (see Figure 16.4). This form of empathic modeling can also be used to gain insight into the
role of carers and the emotional and physical demands on them during ADL.
Limitations for this way of gaining empathy with the end user are that the designer will not
have the same emotional afnity or the insight into the aspirations of someone who has a long-term
impairment or disability. The life perspective of someone born without an arm will be different
from someone who has multiple sclerosis (a degenerative neuromuscular disease); and, different
again to someone who has a broken leg. Each will want something different in terms of aesthetics
and usability from a product that would provide a similar function.
Afnity with your end user, aligning with their emotional aspirations and values, is critical for a
product designer to effectively provide the basis for product desirability or acceptance. This afn-
ity may be considered to be a form of empathic modeling; it can be achieved through a number of
strategies and methods that shortcut the need for extensive market or social sciences-based research.
AU: ‘Keates 2004’
Please prov ide
full refe rence
AU: ‘Poulson
1995’ not listed i n
reference l ist
AU: ‘2010’ Year
mismat ch with
reference l ist
46284_C016.indd 239 14/12/10 8:20 PM
240 Human Factors and Ergonomics in Consumer Product Design: Methods and Techniques
One of the main objectives when collecting information from this target market is getting to
know the current coping strategies associated with the product or service used by the end user;
this is vital as it enhances the designer’s awareness of the end user’s decision making within a task
Where possible, the most direct and information-rich way for a designer to understand their tar-
get user is to be within the end user’s environment; observing, or watching, the tasks associated with
the product or service being performed. From the author’s experience, issues of lifestyle, cultural
background, personal preferences of product, “taste,” coping strategies, and emotional response to
the activity are all intuitively noted. These images and scenes are recreated in the designer’s mind
when they are making design decisions about options within the proposed product or service. The
intuitive practice of a designer may be more formally replicated through the use of mixed methods.  Mixed Methods Research
Mixed research methods provide a more comprehensive set of data on which to make design deci-
sions. This method is a combination of qualitative research strategies complementing quantitative
research activities, which together provide a more complete body of valuable data.
Formal research methods of observation and interview have been found to offer the most cost-
effective “snap-shot” of the needs and aspirations of the end user. Task analysis, alongside inter-
view, will provide the designer with much of the information required to gain enough insight to
propose a design solution. The observation may be remotely from a video tape or key moments in
a task recorded via photographs or even annotated stick gures. Teleconferencing, email, or social
chat software, such as Skype, may be used to discuss issues. It should be noted that ethical use
of social networks as a focus for research is an up and coming issue, as it has not been rigorously
“policed”; being such a recent phenomenon.  Product/Cultural Probes
Product/cultural probes have been used successfully by a number of researchers eliciting informa-
tion from individuals and groups over a longer time period (see Figure 16.5). Probes often consist
of a diary that may be recorded in a number media. Written, drawn, photographic, and video-
recorded evidence provides the NPD team with information-rich evidence into the daily living
activities of individuals or social groups. It may also contain activities, tasks, or questionnaires to
be lled in periodically by the participants. This form of ethnographic inquiry is less intrusive than
a researcher being a “y on the wall”; however, it would require a pilot study to ensure the balance
FIGURE 16.4  A low-cost method of producing dened physical impairments to gain empathy with the end
46284_C016.indd 240 14/12/10 8:20 PM
Universal Design: Empathy and Affinity 241
between media recording formats, tasks, and questions was appropriate and viable to obtain from
the target user group. Supporting site visits by designers (when participants are not at the location)
are essential as they help them construct and better interpret the probes. These visits will also
enhance the understanding of the environment in which their product will be used, without needing
to gain ethical approval to meet with participants directly.
Based on the author’s experience, a combination of physical characterization and past experience
are part of the cost-effective snap-shot. Physical characterization is in the form of specic anthro-
pometric dimensions related to the product and stature (as a reference measure; grip strength; and,
some range of motion [ROM] measurements). A screening questionnaire can also lead to gaining
more information about the participant’s past experience of the product or service and dene their
associated medical condition.  Product “Champion”
Choosing a product representative, or “champion,” has been found to be an effective way of identi-
fying most of the issues relating to social and cultural functionality. It is critical that the chosen indi-
vidual matches and reects the larger population as closely as possible. The prole of the individual
should match the dened medical condition, gender, and age. The socio-economic background has
been found to be less important; the impairment and resulting disability has often inhibited the
persona and lifestyle of the individual. The choice of product champion may be limited, due to the
small market size, locally, nationally, and internationally. The value judgment of the appropriate-
ness of an individual to be the product champion against accessibility, in terms of time and distance,
has to be made by the designer or team. From the author’s experience, it is better to have a local
product champion and be aware that the individual’s opinions may be skewed due to age, gender,
or lifestyle.
16.3.3  stakeholDeRs
When investigating the professional characteristics and opinions of other fund holders and stake-
holders, a group participatory approach is required. This group is inuential in the purchase deci-
sion making, particularly in the UK where care service provision is predominantly provided by the
FIGURE  16.5  Product/cultural probes ready to go out to special needs schools; they contain a camera,
directed drawing activities, and a short questionnaire.
46284_C016.indd 241 14/12/10 8:20 PM
242 Human Factors and Ergonomics in Consumer Product Design: Methods and Techniques  Grounded Theory
A grounded theory approach (Creswell 2009) is a participatory approach to gaining consensus of opin-
ion within a group of experts. In this eld, the experts may be consultant surgeons, general practitio-
ners, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, bioengineers, social workers, NGOs,
and charitable budget holders. Each group will have a different perspective on the balance of the PDS
and realized product. A derivative of grounded theory is the Delphi method (Cohen, Mannion, and
Morrison 2007). This method involves remote communication between the research operator and
individual experts, via questionnaire and given tasks, to arrive at a consensus achieved in grounded
theory. This method enables the closest approximation of a face-to-face discussion with multiple par-
ticipants without using a focus group strategy (Morgan 1997; Langford and McDonagh 2003).  Focus Group
In the author’s experience, focus groups are both time and resource consuming and difcult to man-
age for the quality and quantity of data obtained. Additional factors include the vulnerable nature of
the users involved and the increased opportunity for bias due to the involvement of carers.  Participatory Research
Participatory research instills a sense of ownership in the end user and stakeholders. It empow-
ers end users to be more outspoken about their needs and aspirations. Involving all parties at an
early stage enables a designer to cost-effectively recruit participants and support for the longer-term
design and evaluation of a new product. The term “mixed research methods” advocated in this
chapter are a collection of methods where quantitative (grip strength, anthropometry) and quali-
tative data (opinions, comments, emotional responses) are collected from within the context of a
“happening” or phenomenon (e.g., a design process). Case study is a good example of the application
of mixed methods research within an NPD. It is considered by many to be primarily a qualitative
recording of an “instance” (observed activities); however, it can have other quantitative metrics,
such as task performance outcomes and physical measurements (such as increase the co-efcient of
friction at a handle interface).
16.3.4  ethics
Ethical protocols should be followed with any design research inquiry. There are a number of
detailed references that provide guidance on the ways in which both participant and research opera-
tors can be safe guarded, and provide templates for an ethical approach to mixed research methods
(Creswell and Plano-Clark 2006; Wilson and Corlett 1995).
16.3.5  stRategiesfoR Design
Earlier in the chapter the need to dene a market size in order to choose the manufacturing process
and associated materials was described. The generic processes involved in any NPD are constrained
by similar elements that match particular design choices within the PDS. While these will be acknowl-
edged, the focus of the remaining section of this chapter will discuss the pros and cons of methods
and tools specic to the design of products or services in the eld of universal and inclusive design.
The aim of any commercial designer is to produce an optimum design solution within the short-
est development time and effort. There are many good reasons to get the product to market as soon
as possible: from the moment research data are collected, they are “decaying” in validity. Society
and culture can change in minutes. A good example is the eld of fashion design within which
trends change quarterly, if not weekly. The shorter the time period from inception to the realization
of an NPD reduces overall costs and the time to start generating a return on funds invested. The
market for enabling products and services is more driven by return on investment, due to the small
market size and the often smaller investors who are involved at a personal level.
46284_C016.indd 242 14/12/10 8:20 PM
Universal Design: Empathy and Affinity 243
16.3.6  paRticipatoRy Design
A participatory design strategy provides an opportunity to minimize the number of development
cycles and get the product to market.
The iterative cycle of design development that includes end users, proposed by Papanek so many
years ago, is still valid in current design practice. The data collected from the mixed methods
approach should provide a detailed prole of the UTE. The design methods to be used within an
iterative cycle of development include:
Co-designing (blacksmith approach)
Design heuristics (rules of thumb)
16.3.7  co-Designing
Co-design is a form of participatory design activity, originating from a systems engineering
approach; in this case, it refers to a one-to-one design activity with the designer. It is also known
as co-discovery (Kemp and van Geldren 1996). The term “blacksmith approach” comes from a
traditional way that people in the UK would have had things made. Blacksmiths may be considered
the product designers of the pre-industrial age. A villager would ask the blacksmith to make a new
gate, for example; possibly standing by while it was fabricated. Designing for and with an individual
who represents a larger population of end users has been found to be useful when considering niche
markets. This approach has a number of advantages:
The direct link between designer and end user ensures that the design decision-making
process results in the minimum of iterative cycles of development.
The less well dened, qualitative areas of aspirations for the product and desirability are
also addressed.
There is an opportunity for end users to be made aware of design solutions they may not
have previously considered.
Iterative design cycles, in the form of co-design, enable the optimum compromise to be
achieved quickly.
The end user has a sense of ownership with the nal design solution.
A product design, or service, may be evaluated with a larger sample group once the design
solution has been developed with the “product champion,” with the condence that investment in
this activity is cost effective. The methods used to elicit information from the champion user are
repeated with a larger sample group at an individual level. The efcacy of information gathering
has been found to diminish when obtaining feedback within a group situation, such as when using
a focus group strategy.
16.3.8  Design heuRistics
Design heuristics (rules of thumb) effectively facilitate the interpretation of the functional needs
and aspirations of the target user, while satisfying the standards set by the stakeholders. The design
heuristics include:
Persona footprint
Adaptability and exibility (standardization and modularity)
Use of original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts
Customized interfaces and rapid manufacturing (RM)
Minimize nancial and liability risk
46284_C016.indd 243 14/12/10 8:20 PM
244 Human Factors and Ergonomics in Consumer Product Design: Methods and Techniques  Persona Footprint
The persona footprint is the visual balance between the enabling technologies associated with an
individual and the presence of that person. This design heuristic enables a practitioner to quickly
assess the area of visible technology compared with that of the person. The objective is to mini-
mize the perceived technology and emphasize the personality of the individual. Strategies for this
Minimize the volume of the technology (compact electronics, body contoured supports
and seating, fold-away items)
Break the technology into smaller elements (battery pack on a belt, not part of the com-
munication device)
Use of color to make technologies recessive (dark colors, matt textures)
Customizing the technology to the individual’s personality and value system, branding
(symbols and colors of a favorite football team)
An example of a persona footprint is shown in Figure 16.6, where students have endeavored to
reduce the technology footprint around a powered wheelchair user who also uses a communication aid.  Adaptability and Flexibility (Standardization and Modularity)
Adaptability and exibility (standardization and modularity) embody the application of the seven
principles of universal design. Good examples include “plug and play” computer technology; and
applications, “apps,” for i-Pod touch and other hand-held computer products.
FIGURE 16.6  The reduction in technology footprint on the persona of the user. (Produced by S.M.D. Allen,
J.L. Day, R. Rishikesh Hanumant, L. Gallimore, D. Johnson, and D. Milner, Loughborough University, 2010.)
AU: ‘Produced’
This sou rce is not
included i n the
reference l ist.
46284_C016.indd 244 14/12/10 8:20 PM
Universal Design: Empathy and Affinity 245
Standardization and modularity are engineering conventions that enable adaptability and ex-
ibility of functions. Using a standardized physical or electronic interface reduces costs and offers
the maximum options within a product (Burkitt et al. 1995; Torrens et al. 1996). The same principles
may be applied to a product service. There are many good references that describe both modularity
and standardization (Ulrich and Eppinger 2000).  Use of Original Equipment Manufacturer Parts
Use of OEM parts has a number of advantages:
Complex functions of a new product design may be bought rather than manufactured (e.g.,
USB connectors, electronic subassemblies, gear boxes, electric motors, switches).
Safety critical items can be purchased that are to a known manufacturing and performance
standard (e.g., switches, sensors, hydraulic cylinders, brakes, bearings).
Prototypes may be constructed cost effectively that represent the nal production version.
An important point to consider when applying this particular heuristic or strategy is that it is
employed from the start of a design process. Once a PDS has been produced, the identication of
suitable OEM parts should be the rst task. Some accommodation of the specication for the OEM
part may be needed within the overall design.  Customized Interfaces and Rapid Manufacturing
Customized interfaces and RM are a recent addition to the options available to a product designer.
Previously used for rapid prototyping, the industry has evolved to such a level that RM in polymers
and sintered metals are already used to tailor high-end products to a customer’s preference. They
can also be used to tailor garments to individuals. Examples include, switch or control interfaces,
orthotic supports and grips. High-end refers to the high cost and high value of the product. RM
components can cost effectively provide customized physical interfaces for more severely physi-
cally impaired individuals that link with standardized components within the product assembly.
Examples include seating through to a geared drive train or a wheelchair chassis.  Minimize Financial and Liability Risk
Minimizing nancial risk may be considered an overarching generic objective of any business.
Most of the elements of an NPD described in this chapter lead to reduced cycles of development
by providing evidence of the potential need and desirability of the realized product. Threats from
litigation can be minimized through rigorous, iterative cycles of evaluation and that products are
tested through independent test houses or laboratories to ensure the design audit trail. Following the
guidelines of BS EN ISO 7000-1: 2008 (British Standards Institute 2008) for design and engineer-
ing management, in whatever simplied form, is good working practice. There is also a sub-section
relating to design for inclusivity BS EN ISO 7000-6: 2005 (British Standards Institute 2005).
Advantages of this practice include:
Evidence-based, transparent decision making within the NPD documented
Enables other or new design team members to have empathy with past design decisions
Demonstrates all due care has been taken in the design, if litigious action is taken at a later date
Provides proof of originality in the event of a dispute over intellectual property rights (IPR)
Enables potential investors to assess the products in which they may invest
16.3.9  incReasing youR taRget MaRket: Matching pRoDuct Design specification
Papanek (1974) indicated how to increase your market; design for one very well and look for others
who share the same needs. Increasing your target market may be achieved by nding other UTEs
46284_C016.indd 245 14/12/10 8:20 PM
246 Human Factors and Ergonomics in Consumer Product Design: Methods and Techniques
that require the same or very similar PDS. A powered drinking device, the Autosip (Figure 16.7),
designed for the Motor Neurone Disease Association by the author in 1992 (Burkitt 1996) provides
a good example of this principle.
Designed and developed for members of the association who had limited ability to swallow, it
delivered 2 mL of uid to the mouth in a controlled speed and feed. This avoided the likelihood
of the end user choking on the uid. At the time, variations on the design were aligned with other
markets, including racing drivers, military drivers, and extreme outdoor activities, such as rock
climbers. All may need uid replacement, hands-free.
The design heuristics described above have been used within product design developments over
the last 20 years. The following is a reection on the strategies and methods discussed.
To conclude this description of strategies and methods, a checklist of strategies and methods that
may be used within an NPD has been dened to provide the reader with a structure for reection.
The checklist includes:
Seven principles of universal design
Predictive modeling
Empathic modeling (replicating the physical elements of a medical condition)
Product champion designing (blacksmith approach)
Persona footprint
Standardization and modularity (application of universal design principles)
Use of OEM parts
Customized interfaces and RM
Minimize nancial and liability risk
Matching PDS
FIGURE 16.7  An automated drinking device, the Autosip, being tested by the author in 1992 at the Brunel
Institute for Bioengineering.
AU: ‘Burkitt
1996’ not liste d in
reference l ist
46284_C016.indd 246 14/12/10 8:20 PM
Universal Design: Empathy and Affinity 247
The strategies and methods described here are not all encompassing; however, they are the ones
found to be useful by the author as a practicing designer. The bibliography contains many of the
references found useful by the author. It is hoped that the methods and resources mentioned here
will be of equal use to the reader.
British Standards Institute. 2005. BS 7000-6:2008 Design Management Systems. Managing Inclusive Design
Guide. London.
———. 2008. BS 7000-1:2008 Design Management Systems. Guide to Managing Innovation. London.
Burkitt, J.A., Torrens, G.E., Kay, G.H., Sandbach D., and Sutherland, I.A. 1995. The development of the
Autosip: A hygienic, self-operated, drinking device for people with minimal sucking ability and/or
minimal arm strength. Journal of Rehabilitation Sciences [Tijdschrift Voor Revalidatie Wetenschappen]
8 (4): 115.
Christophersen, J., and Norske stats husbank. 2002. Universal Design: 17 Ways of Thinking and Teaching.
Oslo: Husbanken.
Cohen, L., Mannion, L., and Morrison, K. 2007. Research Methods in Education. 6th ed. London, New York:
Creswell, J.W. 2009. Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches. 3rd ed.
Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Creswell, J.W., and Plano-Clark, V.L. 2006. Designing and Conducting Mixed Methods Research. Thousand
Oaks, CA; London: Sage.
Engineering Design Centre. 2010. Inclusive Tool Kit, 2010. (accessed
May 19, 2010).
Ergonomics and Safety and Research Institute. 2010. Third Age Suit.
design-safety/projects/sim_suit/thirdage.htm (accessed May 19, 2010).
Her Majesty’s Government. 2010a. National Statics Ofce, Population Trends.
populationtrends/downloads/Pop-Trends-spring10.pdf (accessed May 19, 2010).
———. 2010b. National Ofce of Statistics, Population Estimates for UK, England and Wales, Scotland and
Northern Ireland – Current Datasets.
(accessed May 19, 2010).
———. 2010c. National Statics Ofce, Aging.
(accessed May 19, 2010).
———. 2010d. National Ofce for Disability Issues, Disability Prevalence. http://www.Ofcefordisability. (accessed May 19, 2010).
Kemp, J.A.M., and van Geldren, T. (eds.) 1996. Co-discovery exploring: An informal method for itera-
tively designing consumer product. In Usability Evaluation in Industry, eds. P.W. Jordan, B. Tomas,
B.A. Weerdmeester and I.L. McClelland, 139–47. London: Taylor & Francis.
Langford, J.D., and McDonagh, D. 2003. Focus Groups: Supporting Effective Product Development. London:
Taylor & Francis.
Loughborough University. 2010. SAMMIE CAD.
sammie/home.htm (accessed May 15, 2010).
Morgan, D.L. 1997. Focus Groups as Qualitative Research. Qualitative Research Methods Series, 2nd ed,
vol. 16. London: Sage.
Open Ergonomics Ltd. 2000. PeopleSize, 2000. (accessed August 29, 2009).
Papanek, V. 1974. Design for the Real World: Human Ecology and Social Change. St Albans: Paladin.
Porter, J.M., Case, K., Marshall, R., Gyi, D., and Oliver-Sims, R. 2004. ‘Beyond Jack and Jill’: Designing for
individuals using HADRIAN. International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics 33 (3): 249–64.
Poulson, D., Ashby, M., Richardson, S., and TIDE User Consortium. 1996. Usert: A Practical Handbook on
User-Centred Design for Assistive Technology. Brussels: ECSC-EC-EAEC.
Sandhu, J., and Wood, T. 1990. Demography and Market Sector Analysis of People with Special Needs in
Thirteen European Countries: A Report on Telecommunication Usability Issues. Newcastle upon Tyne:
Special Needs Research Unit, Newcastle upon Tyne Polytechnic.
Torrens, G.E. 2000. The implementation of a user-centred design approach by student industrial designers
when designing for elderly and disabled people. The Design Journal 3 (1): 15–30.
AU: ‘Kemp’ Page
range req uired.
AU: ‘eds.’ Delete?
Editors s upplied
furt her in refer-
ence. Page ra nge
inser ted. Please
46284_C016.indd 247 14/12/10 8:20 PM
248 Human Factors and Ergonomics in Consumer Product Design: Methods and Techniques
Torrens, G.E., Marshall, R., Burkitt, J., and Kay, G. 1996. Using modularity to produce more competitive
assistive technology products. Paper presented at IMC-13 Annual Conference of the Irish Manufacturing
Committee, University of Limerick.
Ulrich, K.T., and Eppinger, S.D. 2000. Product Design and Development. 2nd ed. London: McGraw-Hill.
Wilson, J.R., and Corlett, E.N. 1995. Evaluation of Human Work: A Practical Ergonomics Methodology. 2nd
ed. London: Taylor & Francis.
World Health Organisation. 2010. International Classication of Function, Disability and Health (accessed
May 17, 2010).
AU: ‘World
Organi sation’
Web page
requi red.
46284_C016.indd 248 14/12/10 8:20 PM
... Torrens defined empathic modeling as "a well-used method through which designers can gain some experience of the constraints of a defined medical condition that manifests itself in a form of impairment" [18]. Nicolle and Maguire describe empathic modeling as the method whereby an individual, using various props and scenarios, is able to simulate the deterioration of physical and perceptual abilities in everyday scenarios [19]. ...
... Through empathic modeling, the designer aligns with user's emotional aspirations and values, which is critical for effectively providing the basis for product desirability or acceptance [18]. ...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The goal of the paper is to illustrate best practices that can be used in Design for All courses. We implemented the empathic modeling approach in HCI study programme by letting the students simulate users with disabilities in the physical settings in order to increase their understanding of Design for All in their work as HCI designers. The data was collected from students with online questionnaire and open reflections after the course.
Full-text available
An estimated 518 students were taught the Loughborough User Centred Assistive Technology design process, LUCAT, since 2000. Graduates were contacted via a professional networking website to take part in a survey with four being interviewed. The purpose of the survey was to find out if: 1) Did they still use any parts of the process; and 2) Where they had applied them. The respondents ranged from returning placement undergraduates to senior managers in research and development within major companies. From the 105 respondents 23% stated they used parts of the LUCAT process every working day, a further 25% once a week and 27% once a month. The elements of the process used were predominantly semi-structured interviews, concept generation, codesign, design presentation and feedback. Respondents highlighted the benefits of using this process including gaining insights from users, being time efficient, saving money, developing a relationship with end users and making a difference to the lives of people with disability. It was suggested some industries had still not incorporated a User Centred Design approach within New Product Development. The use of the process was shown to be useful beyond AT product design into most areas of design activity.
Full-text available
Imagens audiotáteis são recursos assistivos interativos para pessoas com deficiência visual, capazes de transmitir informações verbais e gráficas por áudio e tato. Discutem-se algumas considerações teóricas acerca desse tipo de material, resultantes de uma Revisão Bibliográfica Sistemática (RBS). Examina-se nomenclatura, funcionamento, aplicações e o desenvolvimento de imagens audiotáteis. O estudo contribui com a atualização sobre o estado da arte de imagens audiotáteis e abre caminho para desencadeamentos futuros nas áreas de Design e Acessibilidade.
Summative content analysis was used to define methods and heuristics from each case study. The review process was in two parts: (1) A literature review to identify conventional research methods and (2) a summative content analysis of published case studies, based on the identified methods and heuristics to suggest an order and priority of where and when were used. Over 200 research and design methods and design heuristics were identified. From the review of the 20 case studies 42 were identified as being applied. The majority of methods and heuristics were applied in phase two, market choice. There appeared a disparity between the limited numbers of methods frequently used, under 10 within the 20 case studies, when hundreds were available. • Implications for Rehabilitation • The communication highlights a number of issues that have implication for those involved in assistive technology new product development: • •The study defined over 200 well-established research and design methods and design heuristics that are available for use by those who specify and design assistive technology products, which provide a comprehensive reference list for practitioners in the field; • •The review within the study suggests only a limited number of research and design methods are regularly used by industrial design focused assistive technology new product developers; and, • •Debate is required within the practitioners working in this field to reflect on how a wider range of potentially more effective methods and heuristics may be incorporated into daily working practice.
Full-text available
Product aesthetics have been shown to positively influence consumers' responses and alter perceptions of brand quality. This development of product aesthetics through the manipulation of color, form and texture within a commercial design activity is a core competency for an industrial designer and a significant factor in the potential success of commercial products. The template can help designers, marketing and engineering to communicate brand design by supporting communication understood by each discipline. Through the template, marketing and engineering can understand brand based on a logical framework that breaks down the brand into sub-elements, making it more accessible and comprehensible to those not trained in aesthetics. The defined elements within the template may now be more effectively evaluated using a 'mixed methods' approach of qualitative and quantitative research methods.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
This presentation draws upon 25 year’s experience working with people who have impairments and live with disability. The presentation highlights the scope of the issues facing those with impairment or disability within current UK society; the challenges facing designers in this field relating to user acceptance of AT products provided; and, the associated stigma. The context of AT products are defined within a user-centred new product development (NPD) process. The viewpoint of the user, associated stakeholders and a wider UK society are described, along with their associated preferences. The generic mechanisms of perception and emotional response to a product are discussed and mapped onto the given process. The semantics of words images and forms are shown to be critical influences on the perception of an individual and society. The presentation provides an example process and design tools that has been practically applied through many successful AT product developments. Further examples of current Finalist student product designs will demonstrate some of the principles described. The process described uses a combination of conventional evidenced-based NPD alongside specific methods of the manipulation of perception and semantic meaning. Design tools such as value web-diagrams, technology footprint, iconography and product DNA are demonstrated within the NPD examples. In conclusion, the expansion of the market is discussed and demonstrated through changing perceptions and responses to an AT-focused product using alternative words and forms to emphasise ‘enhanced living’. Ways in which businesses and inventors may effectively use Universities and associated resources are sign-posted.
Full-text available
This paper describes the introduction of a new module to an undergraduate degree programme for industrial designers in the Department of Design and Technology at Loughborough University. The implementation of the module and its subsequent outcomes will be related to the changing professional needs of graduating industrial designers.The aim of the module is to enable students to practise the use of data collection techniques that provide evidence for their design decision-making. It is also to emphasize the industrial designer's role in the development of the desirability of a product within a given social group, The objectives of the module are to: raise the awareness of industrial design students to the demographic shift towards older consumers and the needs of disabled people; introduce them to more rigorous methods of user assessment; gain an empathy with users outside their personal experience; and provide students with an opportunity to apply their skills and knowledge in the field of user assessment. A research task enabled students to achieve the set objectives in collaboration with local community groups and individual elderly and disabled volunteers.The issues raised within this paper are also of relevance to practising industrial designers who wish to work in the field of Rehabilitation Technology/Assistive Technology (RT/AT) product development, or enhance their knowledge of user-centred design. The paper provides the international industrial design community with an introduction to the support infrastructure in the United Kingdom for the social groups involved in this work.
Many simple daily living activities are impossible for disabled people who have minimal hand or arm movement, unless they have the help of another person. Such excessive dependence can be restricting and demoralising for both the person being cared for and the carer. The Brunel Institute for Bioengineering has investigated the expressed needs of many severely disabled people and their carers. One of their requirements was for a drinking device that would deliver liquid in a safe and controlled manner directly into the user's mouth. The device should handle both drinks and liquidised foods, and needed to be directly under the control of the disabled person. The Autosip has been designed to meet these requirements, and during its whole process of design and development there was frequent consultation with potential users. The Autosip can be controlled by a wide variety of commercially available single switch activators, and so almost anyone can use it. It can be selected to pump any of a range of pre-set quantities, or a continuous flow, into the user's mouth. The liquid is only in contact with an easily sterilised silicone rubber tube; thus hygienic conditions can be maintained all the way from the original container right into the user's mouth.
Part 1 Basic methods and approaches: direct observation of performance, Drury indirect observation of performance, Sinclair computerized data collection, Drury archival data, Drury designing ergonomics studies and experiments, Drury standards, Stockbridge. Part 2 Techniques in design and evaluation: product assessment and user testing, McClelland methods for evaluating text, Hartley evaluation of the human computer interface, Christie knowledge acquisition, Shadbolt. Part 3 Assessing the physical workplace: assessment of the visual environment, Howarth assessment of the climatic environment, Parsons auditory environment and noise assessment, Haslegrave vibration assessment, Bonney anthropometry and biomechanics in workplace design, Pheasant computer workspace modelling, Porter. Part 4 Analysis of work activities: physical workload assessment, Kilbom and Corlett techniques in mental workload measurement, Manenica verbal protocol analysis, Bainbridge stress at work, Cox evaluation of visual performance, Megaw job attitudes, Grey. Part 5 Analysis and evaluation of work systems: task analysis, Stammers et al human reliability analysis, Kirwan simulation and modelling, Meister Accident reporting and analysis, Brown organization analysis, Shipley economic analysis, Simpson and Mason. Part 6 Introduction and implementation of systems: participation ideology and methodology in ergonomics practice new systems implementation, Eason.
In order to support the practice of ‘design for all’ within the design community two key areas have been identified that are critical to success. The first is the provision of accurate and relevant data on the target users, in this case people of all shapes, sizes, ages and abilities. The second is the efficient and effective support in the use of these data during concept generation and product development. A database of individual people was created including their 3D anthropometry and functional abilities. Data sets for individuals are kept intact, a radical departure from the traditional approach which involves effectively ‘dismembering’ people to create tables of percentiles for every dimension of interest. This database is accessed by HADRIAN, our CAD-based design tool, which is integrated with the SAMMIE CAD human modelling system. Using this system, proposed designs of products or services can be automatically evaluated for each individual in the database, based upon criteria set by the designer (e.g. access, reach, vision, mobility and strength). The tool can identify which individuals will be ‘designed in’ or ‘designed out’ and can support the designer in modifying the proposed design to achieve a greater percentage of people accommodated.Relevance to industry‘Design for all’ will remain only a philosophical approach for most designers unless they have access to appropriate design tools that complement their working methods. Few designers understand the intricacies of using percentile values for anthropometric data when exploring multivariate accommodation issues. HADRIAN has been developed specifically to support designers in managing these issues at the concept and product development stages of design.
Design Management Systems. Managing Inclusive Design Guide. London
British Standards Institute. 2005. BS 7000-6:2008 Design Management Systems. Managing Inclusive Design Guide. London. ---. 2008. BS 7000-1:2008 Design Management Systems. Guide to Managing Innovation. London.