Empathy Is Our Compass – The Power of Design Futures


For years, students across the country have been frustrated by the lack of real educational opportunities in community-engaged design. While a handful of programs are gradually emerging to fill that demand, the problem of access remains: Not every student has the privilege to attend one of the few institutions that offer these programs. So what about everyone else? How can an education in impact design become a reality for a broader group of designers?

Universal Design (UD) is an approach to design that increases the potential for developing a better quality of life for a wide range of individuals. It is a design process that enables and empowers a diverse population by improving human performance, health and wellness, and social participation (Steinfeld and Maisel, 2012). It creates products, systems, and environments to be as usable as possible by as many people as possible regardless of age, ability or situation.