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Posts in category 'Disabled'

3 July 2006

India’s Design for All Institute on anthropology and design

Design for All Institute of India
The latest newsletter of the Indian Design for All Institute is devoted to anthropology and design.

It features the articles “Cultural dimensions and global user-interface development” by Aaron Marcus, and “Sampling in design research: toward ethnographic segments” by Ken C. Erickson.

Design for All Institute Of India is a self financed, non-profit voluntary organisation which seeks corporate and public partnership in order to carry forward its very ambitious agenda of pro-actively building bridges of social inclusion between the design community and all other groups whose activities can be positively influenced by a coherent application of design methodology. Design for All means creating products, services and systems to cater to the widest possible range of users’ requirements.

Strangely enough, the website of the Design for All Institute is barely accessible on a Mac.

Download newsletter (pdf, 1015 kb, 48 pages)

29 June 2006

Web accessibility soon mandatory in Europe? [CNet News]

Eu
The 34 EU member states on Wednesday signed up for the “Internet for all” action plan, designed to ensure that the most Web-disadvantaged groups can get online.

The EC has now pledged to increase broadband coverage across the continent to 90 percent by 2010. Rural areas are still underserved, according to the Commission, with about 60 percent penetration. Urban areas fare better and are already at the 90 percent mark.

The EC has also committed to putting new measures in place to halve exclusion rates in skills and digital literacy by 2010.

The Commission is studying the possible introduction of mandatory accessibility standards in public procurement, to be brought in by 2010. The EC is also considering legislation to improve e-accessibility.

According to recent research, 81 percent of Web sites in the United Kingdom are inaccessible to disabled people, while a separate report found that only 3 percent of European public-sector Web sites met W3C accessibility guidelines.

Read full story

(via Pathfinder)

15 May 2006

Major usability and accessibility initiative launched in the UK [BBC]

it enables
The BBC news website reports on the e-inclusion charter, one of the key projects of the it enables consortium, which aims “to research the use of information and communication technology (ICT) by disabled people”.

The e-inclusion charter aims “to provide clear guidelines on how best to develop ICT working to ensure it includes and benefits disabled people”. It is based on the premise that “disabled and older people should have the same rights to participate in the Information Society as other citizens. Information and communication technology (ICT) such as personal computers, mobile phones and interactive TV should be tools that help overcome barriers they face in education, the workplace and social life.”

In the BBC article (excerpt below), the organisers stress that they are aiming at more than just increasing accessibility for disabled users, but want to promote usability improvements for everyone.

The consortium partners include the Alliance for Digital Inclusion (ADI), a pan-industry body focusing on the impact of information and communication technology on our society, with AOL UK, BT, Cisco Systems UK, IBM UK, Intel UK & Ireland, Microsoft UK and T-Mobile as its members, RNID, the Disabled Living Foundation, and the leading technology development consultancy Scientific Generics.

From the BBC story:

Technology firms are being targeted in a bid to make hardware and software easier to use for everyone.

The initiative, backed by disability charities and big firms like BT, aims to make hi-tech firms take usability more seriously.

They want to get companies thinking about how to make goods and services easy to use while design work is done.

Firms signing up will be expected to make big changes to all the things they do that customers encounter.

Despite the involvement of charities that try to raise awareness of accessibility issues, Guido Gybels, director of new technologies at the RNID, said the charter aimed to help everyone.

“We are not talking about small groups of people with specialist needs,” he said.

Instead, said Mr Gybels, the charter wanted to make companies apply accessibility and usability to everything they produce – no matter who buys it or uses it.

Read full story

30 March 2006

UK government web sites fail accessibility tests [BBC]

UK accessbility
More than half of government and council websites contain errors and cause problems for disabled people, research shows.

Some 60% of UK government websites contain HTML errors, according to a study by the University of Southampton.

A similar proportion do not comply with guidelines created to improve web access, it found.

Adam Field, from the university’s School of Electronics and Computer Science, who conducted the survey, said not complying with these guidelines could prevent some individuals from being able to access the websites.

He also pointed out disabled people were likely to require government services and, therefore, had even more reason to want to use government websites.

Read full story

1 March 2006

Computer technology opens a world of work to disabled people [The New York Times]

Disabled_work
[New flexible work] arrangements are bringing jobs to thousands of people with disabilities, including those with spinal cord injuries and vision loss. Fast computers and broadband connections have become so inexpensive and reliable that location is now not an issue for certain jobs, like customer service.

At the same time, an abundance of technology is available to help disabled people operate computers, like software that lets a blind person use a keyboard instead of a mouse to navigate a program, and voice synthesizers that turn text into speech. There are also alternatives to the mouse for people with limited use of their arms.

Read full story

24 February 2006

Open Health, a UK Design Council report on creating new healthcare systems

Designcouncil_openhealth
The UK Design Council published its first RED report: ‘Open Health’, following up on the paper “Health: Co-creating Services” (which was discussed here).

Chronic disease and conditions related to an unhealthy lifestyle have reached epidemic proportions and are rising still. This presents a momentous challenge for the current healthcare system.

Looking at the problem from a design perspective shows that there are many gaps in the way that current approaches relate to people’s daily lives and motivations. Designing from the individual’s point of view could provide the key to solutions that work.

Working with partners in Bolton and Kent over the six months from December 2004, the Design Council explored ways to create new healthcare systems. The design team prototyped innovative services for self-managing chronic conditions and maintaining healthier lifestyles.

These point towards a radical new model of healthcare organisation: Open Health.

Summary pageMovie (8.8 mb, 9 minutes) – Open Health report (pdf, 600 kb, 64 pages)

Kent: Activmobs (download design notes, pdf, 4.9 mb, 41 pages)
With Kent County Council the Design Council worked with some of the most inactive people, in one of the most deprived wards. They prototyped “activmobs” – a platform that supports people to get active and stay active in a way that fits with their lifestyle, interests and abilities.

Bolton: The Diabetes Agenda (download design notes, pdf, 3.6 mb, 41 pages)
In Bolton, the Design Council worked with the local NHS to improve their nationally acclaimed diabetes service. Here they developed “Agenda cards” – a simple set of cards that reframe the interaction between patients and professionals. They also prototyped a Me2 coach service – a new and powerful support role, like a life coach but for people with diabetes. These ideas represent a shift in thinking in the way designers approach the management of chronic conditions and demonstrate how design can be used to put patient centred thinking into practice.

Co-design
Co-design – the name of the design process used – works because people are the experts in their own lives. Co-design addresses health problems from the point of view of the individual, not the system. The Design Council works with people in real world contexts to develop practical solutions to their everyday health problems.

Co-creation
Co-created systems are intended to improve over time and with increased
participation from users and professionals. The Design Council believes they have the potential to provide higher quality and more durable health solutions and answer many of the problems faced by the NHS today.

21 February 2006

Innovative technologies for disabled children

Demand
When six-year-old Tilly Griffiths from Staffordshire wanted to join her elder sister’s ballet class, her parents turned for help to a little known charity that designs and manufactures one-off pieces of equipment for disabled people.

Based in an old chapel just outside Watford in Hertfordshire, Demand (short for Design and Manufacture for Disability) was set up by Lady Renton in 1980 after she was unable to find a chair in which her disabled daughter could sit comfortably.

Read full story [BBC News]

Laptop computers that combine features from popular toys with innovative technology have rapidly accelerated the learning and communication ability of disabled children, Penn State researchers say. The technology could in the future be adapted to victims of major accidents and the elderly as well.

Read full story [Science Daily]

Kids’ favorite purple dinosaur, Barney, or that cute, fuzzy red ‘monster’ from Sesame Street, Elmo, want all kids to be able to play with them. Some kids, however, may not be able to play with them because of physical limitations or other disabilities. But now, because of RePlay for Kids, a nonprofit organization in which engineering students and staff from Case Western Reserve University donate their time and expertise to repair and modify toys for children with disabilities, every child can play with their favorite toy.

Read full story [Science Daily]

23 January 2006

One of four web users are disabled users

Accessibility
A new look at what makes up accessibility.

“Did you know that up to 25% of all visitors on your website have some kind of accessibility problem. Some of your users may be blind, deaf, dyslectic, has learning disabilities or motoric disabilities such as schlerosis, parkinson’s disease, etc. A so-called functional disability.

But how about users with a technical disability: Wireless devices, slow internet connections, old browsers, feed readers, etc. These should be considered as well, as there are probably more people with technological disability than functional disability.

25% of all web users have some kind of accessibility problem. That is a claim from the Danish Center for Accesibility.”

Read full post

(via Usability in the News)

6 January 2006

RSA website on inclusive design

Inclusive_design
Inclusive design is about ensuring that environments, products, services and interfaces work for people of all ages and abilities. Many people are interested in this, but there is no ready source of information, methods, tools and examples to help them achieve it. This website aims to plug that gap by bringing together new and existing information and making it accessible via a single user-friendly interface.

The website is aimed at design students and their tutors, professional designers, design managers and policy makers. It has been developed to introduce newcomers to key concepts, examples and design/research methods, and to support practitioners in gathering together relevant information to build up their own collection of tools and techniques.

17 October 2005

Experientia participates in UNESCO toys workshop in Armenia

Toys for Children's Rehabilitation
Experientia takes part in an international creativity workshop on “toys for children’s rehabilitation” in Yerevan, Armenia.

The symposium, workshop and exhibition, which will take place from 20 November to 3 December, is a joined organisation of Studio-College of the National Aesthetics Center, the Soros Foundation’s Open Society Institute (OSI), World Vision Armenia, Fördern durch Spielmittel – Spielzeug für behinderte Kinder e.V. (Toys for Children’s Rehabilitation) and UNESCO Armenia.

During two weeks participants in collaboration with specialists, including Experientia’s partner Jan-Christoph Zoels, will be involved in various activities together with children with special needs in different childcare facilities to develop completely new toys for therapy and rehabilitation of these children.

The results of the first Armenian creativity workshop will be shown in a public exhibition.

After the exhibition, an interdisciplinary group chooses the most interesting toys. Selecting criteria are therapeutic aspects and innovative character. These toys will then be modified, copied and tested for three months by children with and without special needs.

The organisers will arrange further development of toys and publish a book containing instructions to make toys on one’s own.

Invitation letter (pdf, 304 kb)

27 August 2005

New York Times on the experience of being a patient

Patient1841ch
My Experientia business partner Jan-Christoph Zoels alerted me to a series of New York Times articles on the isolated, frightening, overwhelming and often dehumanising experiences many patients have in hospitals, and what social, cultural and demographic changes are playing a factor in this.

Awash in information, patients face a lonely, uncertain road (14 August 2005 – Permanent link)
A generation ago, patients argued for more information, more choice and more say about treatment. To a great extent, that is exactly what they have received: a superabundance of information, often several treatment options and the right to choose among them.
As this new responsibility dawns on patients, some embrace it with a sense of pride and furious determination. But many find the job of being a modern patient, with its slog through medical uncertainty, to be lonely, frightening and overwhelming.

Patients turn to advocates, support groups and e-mail, too (14 August 2005)
Battle-hardened by the medical system, patients have become pretty good at taking care of one another. If they are not learning enough from their doctors about diagnoses and treatment options, they can turn to organisations that offer support and education programs for specific illnesses. Doctors can often make recommendations about which of these groups are reliable.

In the hospital, a degrading shift from person to patient (16 August 2005 – Permanent link)
Entering the medical system, whether a hospital, a nursing home or a clinic, is often degrading. In interviews and surveys, people who have recently received medical care say that even when they benefit from the expertise of first-rate doctors, they often feel resentful, helpless and dehumanised in the process.
“The point is that when they talk about quality of health care, patients mean something entirely different than experts do,” said Dr. Drew Altman, president of the Kaiser Foundation. “They’re not talking about numbers or outcomes but about their own human experience, which is a combination of cost, paperwork and what I’ll call the hassle factor, the impersonal nature of the care.”

Essential but uncommon knowledge: Patients have many rights. Just ask. (16 August 2005)
You can refuse treatment. You can almost always leave when you are ready to. You can demand to know the name of anyone who enters your room. You may be able to have better food – and even wine – brought in from outside. In many cases, you can ditch the hospital gown and wear your own clothes.

Sick and scared, and waiting, waiting, waiting (20 August 2005 – Permanent link)
Waiting has long been part of medicine. Patients like Ms. Odlum wait for test results; others spend weeks or months waiting for appointments or stranded for hours in doctors’ waiting rooms. But health care researchers say the waiting problem has only gotten worse. Advances in technology have created more tests and procedures to wait for, and new drugs and treatments mean more people need more doctor visits.

Alone in Illness, Seeking Steady Arm to Lean On (26 August 2005 – Permanent link)
There is no way to calculate how many Americans of all ages living alone happen to be sick or disabled, but hospital discharge planners and home health care agencies say they are serving more single people without an obvious person to look after them.

Where to Get Help in Planning for Illness (26 August 2005)
To be ill and alone requires far more advanced planning than is required of those who live with their families. It is a predicament poorly understood by health care providers, who are likely to advise hiring a home health aid or other professional.

Related: IDEO’s design cure – [Metropolis, October 2002] (pdf, 828 kb)

25 July 2005

London exhibition of designer hearing aids [BBC]

Ideo_hearing
The UK’s largest charity for deaf people and a design magazine are launching an exhibition of futuristic hearing aids to make them more popular.

The show, called Hearwear, opens at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London this week.

Read full story

(Related story: The new look of hearing – Red Herring]