An Investigation of the Methods Used by Designers to Engage with Users that Have Specific, Critical, Additional Needs

By Wesley David Scott, Andrée Woodcock and Deana McDonagh.

Published by The International Journal of Design Management and Professional Practice

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Despite the need for increased engagement of differently-abled users throughout the design process, little attention has been placed on the inclusivity of requirements and data gathering methods. This shortcoming can result in inappropriate and non-inclusive products. The training of designers may not provide sufficient opportunities to develop the skills insight and expertise designers require to work with SCAN users. Although some designers in this sector may have an intimate knowledge of disability, it is hypothesized that the majority of designers are ill-prepared to work with SCAN users. Three focus groups, augmented by telephone interviews, were conducted to explore the methods used, experiences, and attitudes of designers working with SCAN users in order to understand engagement methods and difficulties they encountered. The paper presents the gap in knowledge, provides insight into the experiences of designers working with SCAN users, and outlines the way in which this gap will be filled.

Keywords: Inclusive Design, Critical Needs, User Research

The International Journal of Design Management and Professional Practice, Volume 8, Issue 3-4, January 2015, pp.1-13. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 429.229KB).

Wesley David Scott

Research Student, Coventry School of Art and Design, Coventry University, Coventry, West Midlands, UK

Wesley Scott is currently undertaking his PhD, looking at how we can better include users with disabilities in design and evaluation processes, specifically in relation to the methods designers use to do this. He hopes to produce guidelines to assist designers to make reasoned methodological choices when working with SCAN participants.

Prof. Andrée Woodcock

Chair of Educational Ergonomics and Design, School of Art and Design, Coventry University, Coventry, West Midlands, UK

Prof. Andree Woodcock’s work is in applied ergonomics. She has led and currently works on a number of projects in areas related to the design of health care, assistive technology, transport, education and design of public spaces. In all cases her work has focused on user-centred design and making products, spaces, and systems more inclusive. She is currently leader of the Integrated Transport and Logistics Grand Challenge.

Dr. Deana McDonagh

Professor and Department Chair, Human Perception and Performance Group, School of Art and Design, University of Illinois (Champaign-Urbana), Urbana, Illinois, USA

Dr. Deana McDonagh is an empathic design research strategist who focuses on enhancing quality of life for all through more intuitive and meaningful products, leading to emotional sustainability. Her research concentrates on emotional user-product relationships and how empathy can bring the designer closer to users’ authentic need. She is currently chair of the industrial design department at the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign) and faculty at the Beckman Institute of Advanced Science and Technology.