Discussion Summaries

Three participants chat during the AccessEngineering capacity building institute.

Workshop: Design Physics: Relationships

Led by Dan Formosa, Dan Formosa, Inc.

Almost every thing you touch throughout the day has been designed by someone, meaning a decision was made that influenced how it was made. Recently I went on a road trip, and I needed to find a place to eat. Yelp recommended this fantastic place called Daily Planet, with a great menu, which led me to wonder why I don’t make a tremendous breakfast at home regularly. What would it take me to make a great breakfast (Western omelette, bacon, home fries, toast, fresh orange juice, and coffee), and specifically, how would I make that if I had a specific disability?

I asked workshop participants to pick a specific disability and design a kitchen and tools to complete this task. Participants reacted to this experience in a variety of ways:

  • If I cared about specifics, it was a lot harder—and it was more or less difficult based on my choice.
  • It’s hard to design for someone when you don’t know their exact difficulties.
  • When you solve for one problem, you can think of other people it could benefit and finding more solutions.
  • Cultural differences can come up—for example, toast can be very different in different countries and may require different tools.
  • There is a challenge that this can bring up even more universal design, and it can be hard to implement universal design because you realize you aren’t thinking about everyone when solving for one.
  • If you solve for one problem, does that create another problem for another population?
  • Sometimes a solution wouldn’t be used by everyone, and something may be inconvenient for one but a good solution for another.