Excerpts from Design For All – Guest Editors Beth Tauke and Korydon Smith – April 2016

Excerpts from:  Design for All Institute of India, Special Issue, April 2016 (University at Buffalo - State University of New York), Vol. 11, No. 4


by Beth Tauke and Korydon Smith
University at Buffalo, School  of Architecture and Planning,  United States


Recall  the face of the poorest and weakest man you have seen,  and ask yourself if this step you contemplate is going  to be of any use to him.-Mahatma Gandhi

Universal design (UD),  sometimes called  inclusive design or design for all, is one of the most  important design movements of our time because of its emphasis on empowering all individuals, particularly those  who  otherwise have not had voice.  Based  on the principles of social  justice, this  global  movement seeks  to improve not  only  the built  environment, but  also  social  and  institutional systems for  the widest possible range of people.

This  issue  of Design  for  All,  devoted to universal design education and research, features individuals who have dedicated themselves to social  justice issues  across  an  array  of  design disciplines— architecture, interior design,  industrial design,  urban  design and planning. Contributors range  from  world-renowned UD  educators and  researchers to  those  at the  beginning and  mid-levels of  their careers.  Interviews, short  essays,  and longer articles provide a spectrum of viewpoints that offer  new ways  to think  about  universal design in  our  changing world. The  issue  begins with  a  personal reflection from  Professor Craig  Vogel,  director of  the  well-known

Live Well Center  at the University of Cincinnati, who tells the story of how  a book  and  a boy  with  autism  led  him  to a life-long career  in inclusive design.  Following this  is a set of macro-level thoughts by Dr. Edward Steinfeld, director of the State University of New  York  at Buffalo’s  Center   for  Inclusive  Design   and  Environmental  Access (IDeA), the premier research center  on universal design in the built environment, on  the  need  to  develop a  global   community of  UD practice. As  an  experiential learning expert,   Professor Mary  Jane Carroll,  Chair  of the Interior Design  Program at Sheridan College in Ontario, Canada,   introduces four   essential  elements of  inclusive design education. Furthering discussion on the multi-disciplinary aspects of UD education and research, design anthropologist, Dr. Jo- Anne  Bichard, writes about  the  importance of  considering sustainability  in   relation  to   inclusive  design.    Recent    graduate student,  Kristen  Gabriele  expands  on   the   social   sustainability aspects of her thesis,  which addressed improved housing design for transitional  villages.  Another  recent    inclusive  design  graduate student, Daniel  Nead,  summarizes his  thesis,  which examined the viability of re-using residual military equipment in Afghanistan to develop mobile  classrooms for young  girls  who  otherwise would not receive an education. Bridging the disciplines of universal design for learning (UDL)   and  UD,  Professor Eric  Dolph  reveals the  various ways   that   students  learn   in   the   design  studio    setting,  and encourages inclusive teaching strategies. Dr. Jennifer Webb  focuses her  essay  on  workplace design changes, and  the  need  to accommodate workers with  various working/learning styles  and physical abilities. The issue  ends  with  Professors Kavita  Murugkar’s and Abir  Mullick’s comparative study,  which explores the ways  that those  with  vision   loss  understand form  through touch.  Clearly,  a wide  variety of topics  are presented; yet all of the interviews, short essays,  and longer articles allude  to a common set of questions: How does   universal  design  challenge  our   conventional  concepts  of making? How does UD affect  the ways we teach, learn, research, and practice in ever-changing pluralistic conditions?

The  contributors to  this  issue  are  leaders in  moving  the  universal design paradigm from one focused primarily on accessibility to a broader concept that  includes all  marginalized groups–those with low income,  victims of disaster, women, and others  whose needs  are often   neglected  in  design.   This   new   paradigm  gives   priority  to providing a higher level  of  access,  safety,  and  convenience in  all products and places.  Moreover, it extends UD to domains outside the built  environment to include the design of systems, services, and business practices. This work  is timely.  According to Dr. Edward Steinfeld,  several  global   trends   are   driving  the   need   for   new initiatives in inclusive design:

  • The increasing diversity of societies in race,  ethnicity, income, age, and disability
  • The  recognition that  supporting social  participation of women and minorities is a necessity to reduce  discrimination and segregation, and increase independence
  • The  aging   of  the  population, which  is  driving  increases  in disability rates throughout the world
  • Devastation caused  by disruptive natural and human-caused disasters that  leave  large  populations in  states  of  emotional and physical distress
  • The globalization of business that is providing opportunities for positive change,  but also leading to widening income  gaps
  • The  rapid  pace  of technological change  that  is increasing the potential for  design to  make  positive differences in  people’s lives
  • The crises  in health  care and education in many countries that demand innovative solutions, particularly in rural areas
  • Population growth and  rapid  economic growth in  developing countries that is taxing  global  resources, especially energy  and food.
  • Global warming that threatens major disruptions in ecosystems, especially along the seacoast.

Not only do these  global  transformations and attitude shifts  indicate areas  in which UD is needed,  but  they  also  open  opportunities for education and research. For example, design curricula could  include the areas  of human  diversity; health,  safety,  and wellness; sensory perception;  and  social   justice as  core  elements  of  study   for  all students. Researchers could  examine the  gaps  in knowledge about relief-system effectiveness in meeting the basic  needs  of victims of natural and human-made disasters. Studies that explore the roles  of planning and  local  government policies in  facilitating sustainable food   systems  could   help   to  provide  access   to  healthy  food   in marginalized communities. These few examples demonstrate the call for  new  ways   of  designing, and  could   drive   efforts for  change. Design  disciplines have  started to respond with  organizations such as  Design   for  Good,  Design   Action Collective, and  Design   Corps. However, it is the responsibility of UD educators and researchers to ensure   that   students  and   professionals  are   equipped  with   the necessary knowledge  and  skill   to  effectively practice design for social  justice. Inclusive design methods provide the  evidence base and  critical  details  required  to  develop  work   that   benefits  the broader population. In that  sense,  universal design is a process of social   construction  –  a  representation  and  shaper   of  attitudes, values,    customs  and   trends.    The   role   of   UD   educators  and researchers, then,  is to identify and develop the knowledge needed for designers to best respond to social  realities.Design educators, researchers, and  practitioners need  to understand these  processes and  their  implications on  one  hand,  and,  by  taking  on  leadership roles,  develop new  socially responsive visions of  design   on  the other.  In that way, inclusive designers assume  catalytic roles  in communities  through  work   with   positive  societal  impact,   and become  arbiters of change.

professor beth tauke of university at buffalo school of architecture and planning 

Beth Tauke, M.F.A

professor korydon smith of university at buffalo school of architecture and planning

Korydon Smith, D.Ed


On inclusive design  education and research


College of Design,  Architecture. Art,  and  Planning at the University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio, United  States

I would define  inclusive design as the ability to help  others  achieve their  optimum potential.  Everyone should also  be able to achieve a state of flow  that balances their  ability with  their  challenges and opportunities.

When  I was an undergraduate psychology student at Marist  College, in Poughkeepsie New  York,  I volunteered and  visited many  of the public   institutions in  the  region,   from   prisons to  a  facility that housed adults  with  cognitive disabilities. I had  the  opportunity to work  with  a boy with  severe  autism  at Hudson River  State Hospital. Needless to say, all these  facilities were  horrible places  for humans to be “housed” and for people  to work.   I realized that David was not receiving the  stimulation he needed  through behavior modification therapy, and  hoped  that  one  day  I could  find  a way  to do  better. Talking him for walks and talking to/with him was more stimulating than the therapy I was asked to use to get him to talk.

When  I graduated with  my undergraduate degree,  I was  accepted into  the Master  of Design  Program at Pratt  Institute.  Shortly  after starting the  program at Pratt,  the  book  Design  for  the  Real  World was  published. It was  Victor  Papanek’s book  that  made  me realize that I could connect my interest in improving the lives of people  who were  not  well  served  through design.    I have  kept  that  promise to improve conditions for  humans ever  since.    I also  was  raised  in a three-generation family;  my grandmother lived  with  us and later  my great  aunt  also  came to live with  us as well.   This  experience made me aware  of the differences and needs  of children, middle age and older  adults  all  living  in  one  house  in  a diverse neighborhood in Brooklyn.   The  concepts of  universal design and  inclusive design were  very  easy  for me to embrace because they  gave  a title  and  a definition to a world I had experienced most of life.

Individuals either  turn away from opportunities to help people  or sympathetically/empathetically embrace opportunities to reach  out to those  in need.   I could  have been appalled by the condition of the autism  ward  at Hudson River  State where I found  David.   Instead, I responded to the fact that he needed  help.  Design  gave me the tools to  take  insight  and  convert it  into  action   to  develop solutions. Design  as a discipline for inclusive design starts  with  human  beings and  their  needs,  and  works backward.   Teaching and  conducting research at several design programs and universities has allowed me to evolve  my thinking and translational ability along  with  greater awareness in society with  the growing recognition for embracing diversity on every  level.   I have been  able to pass  my interests and beliefs on to decades of students who,  like  me, embrace the ability to make a difference in people’s lives.

During  my career  the word  ‘cripple’ evolved into the use of the term ‘disabled’;  these   terms   were   coupled  first   with   words  such   as ‘accessibility’, ‘adaptive design’, and  then  evolved into  ‘universal’ and  ‘trans-generational design’.   I  believe the  words‘  inclusive design’ match  the conceptual evolution of designers’ and  societies’ attitude and awareness of meeting the greater needs  of society. Inclusive design implies solutions that  embrace the greatest range of people.   The term also covers  the opposite approach to designing for specific needs with a non-stigmatizing approach.

Most  of my career  has been devoted to the goals  of inclusive design but  I have  not  been  able  to  make  it  a sole  focus  until  my  recent opportunity in the College of Design,  Architecture Art, and Planning (DAAP) at  the  University of  Cincinnati (UC).    For  the  past  eight years,  I have  worked with  others  at UC and Proctor and Gamble  to form  the Live Well  Collaborative. I have been able to take 20 years of experience and, with  support, turn from being  a fisherman to help to teach  others  to “fish” for inclusive opportunities.  My recent  work has been to establish a working with  relationship with  Children’s Hospital, which is affiliated with  the  University of Cincinnati.  This work  has been  the most  rewarding work  of my career.  I have  also been  able  to  connect this  work  to other  universities in  the  world, specifically in China.

There  are  wonderful opportunities for  designers in  this  century to continue  to   expand    our   concept  of   inclusive  design.  Social awareness and technology with  appropriate economic support could continue to make inclusive design a globally integrated part of every society, for everyone across  the lifespan and across  economic levels. There  are, however, also  threats that  come  with  ignorance, limited views   of  how  resources should be  allocated, and  even  if  helping others  in need  is a valid  practice. It is important to realize that the counter to inclusive design is the practice of exclusivity, and I would define  it as the  act  of deciding who  should not  be included.  This practice  is   going   on   throughout  the   world  in   every   country. Inclusive design as an area began  with  serving the needs  of people with  limited physical and cognitive abilities. I have  found  that  this concept can be expanded.  Those  of use who  are perceived as “fully functional” often  have short  term  and long  term  needs  for inclusive design  solutions.    Steve   Hawking  is  physically  challenged  and requires a wheel chair  and artificial voice  to talk.   He is also  one of the most  influential thinkers of the past and present century.  Many of  us  with  limitations accept  them  and  get  on  with  life  and  have become  acutely aware  of the importance of valuing every  moment. On the other  extreme, Bruce  Jenner was  arguably one  of the  most abled  individuals and an icon of the 20th  century male when  he won the decathlon gold  medal  in the Olympics.  No one realized that  he was  dealing with  his  own  challenge of  feeling he  was  a  women trapped in a man’s  body.  He is now  a symbol  of 21st  century sexual awareness and inclusivity.

I think   we  have   new   dimensions  of  exclusive  design  that   are threatening  the  basic   assumption of  what   our  connected global society could  be.   The  most  destructive force  challenging inclusive design is  political and  religious  rhetoric that  preaches hate  and attempts to define  good and evil.   The best exclusive design is not a luxury  car for a limited elite; it is an individual with  a cell phone  and bomb  vest.    While  growing up  in  Brooklyn, I was  taught  to  fear communism and the atomic  bomb.  The A bomb was and is a weapon capable  of   killing  hundreds  of   thousands.    Today   we   fear   a completely different scale of exclusivity and destruction. One or two humans with  vests  of limited destruction but complete mobility can paralyze  a  city.     The  current  political  rhetoric  of  division  and isolation could  derail  all of the work  of inclusive design that  I have been  fortunate enough to be a part  of.   I remain  committed to the goal of global  inclusivity and fulfilling the mission that started when I volunteered to help David  and failed,  and was then enlightened by a book that gave me a path to potentially make a difference.

craig vogel

Craig Vogel, M.I.D. Associate Dean


Interview with Dr. Edward Steinfeld

Center for Inclusive Design  and Environmental Access  (IDeA)
School  of  Architecture and  Planning, University at  Buffalo – State
University of New York Buffalo, New York United  States

What   do  you  believe  to  be  the  essential  elements  of inclusive design education?

All students need at least three courses in inclusive design with  high quality, relevant readings and projects for each:  1) an introductory course  for all university students that  would get them  interested in universal design.  Diversity and Design:  Understanding Hidden Consequences is  a  great  text  for  that.  2)  a  foundational lecture course  on universal design that provides concepts, identifies issues, and  identifies best  practices. We developed a textbook that  can be used  as  the  basic   reading  for  such  a  course,   Universal  Design: Creating Inclusive Environments, and 3) a studio  or clinical practice course,  depending on the discipline. It is particularly important that these  courses do not become  courses on accessibility regulatory compliance. Such content should be part of a general course  on regulatory issues,  ideally taught  to all students.

What  do you see as the major  challenges of the inclusive design field?  How would you address these challenges?

Building a constituency is a major  challenge. To do this, we need  to change   paradigms from  legally mandated accessibility  for  people with   disabilities to  a  broader  approach  to  design that  seeks   to improve  usability,  health   and  social   participation  for  all  people, including those   often  marginalized and  under-represented in  the design process. We are addressing this challenge through university education, continuing education, improving codes  and standards and development of a UD recognition program based  on the adoption of clearly defined universal design strategies.

Building capacity to teach  UD also  is a challenge.  Not many  faculty in design schools really  have adopted UD. They pay it lip service, but do  not  have  the  knowledge  and  skills   needed   to  teach   it  in  a comprehensive way and are not active  in research. The solution is to provide advanced degrees with  a concentration on UD for graduate students who want to become  educators.

What   do   you   see   as  the   major   opportunities  of   the inclusive design field?  How  would you address these opportunities?

Industry sees the value  of universal design more so than the design professions. But,  whatever the  client  wants,  the  professionals will do. So, finding early  adopters among  clients is the key to taking advantage of this  interest.  One way  to do that  is to publicize best practice examples and demonstrate their  value  through design research. Another  is  to  organize  communities  of  practice in  UD among  existing communities, e.g. housing, arts facilities, workplace environments, health  facilities, etc.

What   changes  do  you  see  on  the  horizon  in  inclusive design education?

Universal design is starting to  take  on  a broader emphasis, going beyond  the  traditional disability focus  to address issues  of income disparity,  health    promotion,  social    integration  and   a   broader approach to design participation

What   changes  do  you  see  on  the  horizon  in  inclusive design research?

It is important for universal design researchers to increase emphasis on      knowledge     translation     by      mining     the      scientific literature. Research is  needed  that  addresses priorities in  practice and  gaps  in  the  literature, especially in  the  ambient environment, e.g. acoustics, lighting, thermal comfort, etc. In addition, research is needed  that develops useful  tools for practice, e.g. virtual and digital tools for incorporation in the design process.

What   changes  do  you  see  on  the  horizon  in  inclusive design practice?

First,  validation of UD knowledge is a next step. At the present time, anyone  can say they practice universal design.   I think  there  will  be a move  toward an accreditation or credentialing program to demonstrate that  a practitioner really  has the knowledge and skills needed  to implement a UD approach.

Second,  there  needs  to be a stronger community of practice in UD across  the  globe.  Sharing information and  coming together on key concepts and initiatives will  help  everyone achieve their  goals  more effectively. This is starting to happen.

What  aspects of your inclusive design teaching/research/practice are most compelling and/or satisfying to you? Why?

I am encouraged to see the interest that students have in design for diversity. They are hungry for knowledge that they can use to solve real  human  problems that  are  evident all  around them.  While  they value  the  technical skills  they  get  in design education, aside  from sustainable design,  they  are  more  interested in  human  problems. The educational establishment has not addressed differences related to the body, social  class,  race, culture and others  sufficiently. While educators may provide courses with  content on diversity, it is often addressed in a critical way  rather  than  in a productive and problem solving context.

What  changes have  you brought to inclusive design education?

My  colleagues  and  I developed the  first   graduate  concentration program on UD in the U.S.  The IDeA Center  also has the first  online series  of courses on the subject that are available as continuing education  for  practitioners. I  am  particularly  heartened  by  the excellent students from  all over  the world who  we are attracting to our graduate concentration.

Figure  1. Dr. Ed Steinfeld working with  an M. Arch. student in the Inclusive Design Graduate Research Group.

What  are  your  current research interests? How  have  you involved your students in your research?

I direct  a federally funded center  of excellence in universal design and  the  built  environment in  which we  are  doing  targeted human factors research on anthropometry for people  with  disabilities, safer stairway design,  reduction of slips  and falls and developing products for  improved way  finding. We  are  also  developing evidence-based design  strategies  that   will   be  available  for   use   in  recognition programs like certification.

I also co-direct a federally funded center  of excellence in accessible public  transportation in which we are studying how  to improve accessibility to  large  and  small  buses,  how  to  reduce   barriers to accessing transit systems and  developing accessible software for next bus apps.

We have  launched a consulting program for product manufacturers through which we  help  them  develop and  test  products with  UD features.

We  also  have  services directed specifically to design for  disability. Our  staff   design  about   60  home   adaptations  a  year   for   local households with  accessibility needs  and  we  have  an  increasingly active  accessibility consulting practice focusing on  design reviews and access  audits.

I am  also  involved in  a collaborative study  with  the  University of Limerick  on   continuing  education  needs    in   UD   among    Irish architects. We are doing  this work  for the Irish Centre  of Excellence in Universal Design.  We hope to expand  this shortly to Australia and the U.S.

Dr. Edward Steinfeld conducting a workshop in Dublin, Ireland for UD educators and clients.

Figure  2. Dr. Edward Steinfeld conducting a workshop in Dublin,  Ireland for  UD educators and clients.

What will drive adoption of UD in the future?

The aging  of the population is the most  important driver  of interest in universal design in first  world economies. As you  know,  I am a gerontologist as well  as an architect and  I have  always advocated for applying UD to issues  of aging.  In particular, I believe if we had universally designed communities, older   people   would have  very little  interest or need  for  age  segregated retirement settings.  The IDeA Center  is a partner in leading a local Age Friendly Communities initiative with  the  American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) and our county  government. Through this work  we are finding many ways that UD can be applied to issues  of aging.

In developing countries, the  focus  needs  to  be  on  addressing the needs  of  the  most  marginalized people.   This  includes addressing problems of homelessness, access  to adequate sanitation and water, resiliency  in  response  to  disasters,  etc.   The  new   University  at Buffalo Community of Excellence in Global  Health  Equities is taking on  these   challenges,  and  we  hope  to  play  an  important role  in showing how UD can be applied to these problems effectively.

Edward Steinfeld

Edward Steinfeld, Arch.D.is a Distinguished SUNY Professor

Interview with Professor Mary Jane Carroll

Department  of   Interior  Design,   Sheridan  College,  Mississauga, Canada University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada

What   do  you  believe  to  be  the  essential  elements  of inclusive design education?

I believe that  there  are four  essential elements in inclusive design education.  The first element is advocacy: that is to raise student awareness so that  they  will  become  advocates of inclusion, both  in policy  and practice. If they become  advocates as students, they are more   likely   to  become   advocates  as  practitioners.  The   second element  is  to  make   inclusive  design  key  in  content  across   the curriculum, and  not  limited to courses that  are specifically focused on inclusion.  If inclusive design becomes ingrained as an expected component of a design strategy, then  inclusion becomes a part  of normal   practice  for   the   design  student,  and   later   the   design professional. The third  is to offer  inclusive design curriculum that is open  to non-majors, thereby creating greater awareness and potentially greater advocacy across  disciplines and beyond  the educational realm.  The  fourth   is  to  make  inclusion a  part  of  the delivery model  for  the  teacher.   This  means  the  recognition that student groups are by nature  diverse and therefore attention to methods of delivery to include different learning styles,  as well  as differences in physical and cognitive ability benefit the learning experience.

What  do you see as the major  challenges of the inclusive design field?  How would you address these challenges?

In my  experience,  one  of  the  greatest  challenges  in  practicing inclusive design has centered on client  misconception.  Specifically, clients incorrectly believe that  inclusion and accessibility for people with  disabilities are synonymous terms,  and that inclusive design solutions are an expensive luxury.  I try to address these  myths  by raising client  awareness.  As the bottom  line  is generally the prime motivator for clients, I have found  the best method in advocating for inclusion is through the use of a comparative cost  breakdown. This helps  clients to understand that they need not invest  more money  in the job for it to be inclusive. And,  at the same  time,  they  need  not compromise on aesthetics to create  an inclusive environment. Of course,  this approach is dependent upon the type of job.  It is easier to   advocate  for   inclusion  in   commercial  work   rather   than   in residential work  as building codes  are more stringent and as clients are less  personally invested in commercial projects.  In residential design,   advocacy is  more  complex.   In these   cases,  I generally advocate for  lifespan decisions, and  show   design decisions  that speak  to these  decisions.  Personalizing the need  is also  important. Life events  such as a broken leg, bringing in heavy loads of groceries or aging  in place  resonate with  most clients. However, I have found that  this  lifespan argument can  be age  sensitive.  Older  adults  are more  likely  to be persuaded than  younger adults  to employ  lifespan strategies.

Another issue  facing   the  inclusive design field  is  that  it  has  not received the level  of public  attention that  other  initiatives, such  as the    sustainable   built    environment   initiative,   have    received.

Sustainability has become  an essential part of practice for designers through the establishment of LEED standards. A building that meets LEED  standards is celebrated with  public  awards, given  substantial financial incentives and  is  heralded as  socially responsible.   Most design firms  now  have practitioners on staff  that are LEED certified. Although I realize that  there  are initiatives to this  effect  in process for  the  inclusive  design  field,   this   type  of  widespread  industry recognition has not been achieved.

What   do   you   see   as  the   major   opportunities  of   the inclusive design field?  How  would you address these opportunities?

I think  most designers would agree  that the changing demographics in North  America will  provide a major  opportunity for the inclusive design field.  Now  that the rights-oriented boomer population has reached senior  status  and now that we have a greater portion of our population than  ever  in our history that  is over  the age of 65, new opportunities will  emerge  for this area of study and practice.

Some of the opportunities related to the age-quake will  be job-based and  some  academic.  For  instance, at present, we  have  a decided lack of professionals who  are trained to work  in this area of design, and  so  I see  this  as a potential niche  market  for  emerging young designers and education to address. Likewise, not all post-secondary design programs include inclusive design curriculum content, and so that is also an area of opportunity and perhaps of specialization.

The  other   opportunity  that   I see  for  the  inclusive  design  field concerns inter-disciplinary  research.   The  design disciplines have been  slow  to embrace evidence-based research studies and to work closely with  other  disciplines, such  as gerontology or public  health. The  changing  demographics  provide  a  real  impetus  for interdisciplinary research to occur.

What   changes  do  you  see  on  the  horizon  in  inclusive design education?

One  of  the   most   dramatic  changes  on  the   horizon  for   design education is the  inclusion of  inclusion in  the  curriculum, and  as a focus  for design research. The past few years  have seen a renewed focus  on  the  end  user  in  design education, and  this  has  lead  to greater importance being  placed  on environment-behavior research and  curriculum  content.   For  instance,  educational  accreditation bodies  such as CIDA (Council for Interior Design  Accreditation) now include whole standards that are devoted to human  factors and universal design.   And  for  Ontarians, the  new  standards act,  the AODA  (Accessibility for  Ontarians with  Disabilities Act),  will  mean increased emphasis on training to work  in a more inclusive manner. This  will  occur  both  within the  traditional academic curriculum but also as part of the continuing education seminars and workshops available to professionals.

Likewise, the shift  in demographics and the needs  of the client  base that   is   associated  with   these   demographics  will   also   provide incentive for  academic programs to include content that  addresses issues  such as aging in place, and public  accommodations.

What  changes have  you brought to inclusive design education?

Over the past decade,  my course  content has focused on experiential learning,  self-reflection,  and   community  outreach  rather than following a case  study  and  lecture approach as  in  the  past.    For example, I now   encourage  students  to  evaluate  public   interiors using  sensory impairment exercises. These  exercises reinforce the need   to  be  inclusive  early   in  the   design  process  rather   than removing  barriers  later.   I have   also   developed  a  community outreach program that  requires third  year  students to work  with  a local  not-for-profit organization to raise  awareness through design. Each student group  works with  a different community group.  These include a  First  Nations organization, an  LGBTQ  organization, two mental  health  organizations (one  for youths  and one for adults), an elder  abuse  organization, an eating  disorder organization and so on. The  final  realized project is  a built  exhibit/booth  that  showcases issues  important to the organization. Each kiosk  is sited  prominently within the college for a one-week period.

And  finally, I have  developed a  first  year,  multi-sensory design project, the design of a Snoezelen room  (a controlled multi-sensory environment used  in  cognitive therapy) for  autistic children.. This project asks  students to design with  all of their  senses,  particularly as they  are  asked  to go beyond  the  layout  and  design of space  to design a  new  multi-sensory element that  could  be  used  for  this group.

What  are  your  current research interests? How  have  you involved your students in your research?

In the  past   few   years,   I have  focused  two   areas   of  research: affordable aging-in-place and people  over the age of 50 returning to the classroom for a second  career.  Students work  with  me through small  internal grants  from  the  college, or alternately through their thesis  projects in year 4.

mary jane carroll

Mary Jane Carroll,  M.Arch.is Chair and Professor of Interior Design  at Sheridan College in Toronto, Canada


Interview with Dr. Jo-Anne Bichard

University of Brighton, Brighton, United  Kingdom
Royal  College of  Art  –  Helen  Hamlyn   Centre  for  Design,   London, United  Kingdom

What   do  you  believe  to  be  the  essential  elements  of inclusive design education?

I believe the  most  important element is that  the  student wants  to design inclusively. At the Helen  Hamlyn  Centre for Design  we used to have long  debates about  ‘teaching’ inclusive design as some universities offered it as a module. However, we felt  the desire  had to come from the designer in the first place–they are designers first, then  they  find  inclusive design.  So we offered workshops for newly arrived students and tutorials for those  who were  further on in their courses, but who wanted to undertake inclusive design.  We also had a mantra  that  inclusive design is just  good  design.  Ideally we  are looking  for  design  to  be  automatically  be  inclusive,  and  I am beginning to  see  this.  More  and  more  design has  considered the wider  population as  part   of  its  process,  and   a  current  design committee I  am  working  with   definitely  sees   inclusion  as mainstream.

What  do you see as the major  challenges of the inclusive design field?  How would you address these challenges?

I have always felt inclusive design to be a philosophy, in that it is a way of thinking and, therefore, beginning the process of design (and it  works  far   better   if  it  is  inclusive  from   the   start),   but   this philosophical  perspective  might   also  be  because I am  a  design anthropologist. The challenges remain  the same  as those  that  have always been there–how to convince business that despite the overwhelming evidence that  inclusive design is  good  business, it should be incorporated in the design of new  products environments and services. It is not mainstream yet. I do not know  how to address the inertia of business–one would think  the business case would be enough–but it  seems  the  perceived outlay  is  still  considered too costly.  So I guess  that  is one  thing  we  could  change.  The  other  is that  I often  see inclusive designers become  facilitators on projects, especially when  they  have  been  trained in  inclusive design;  they know  how  to  work  with  people   and  how  to  engage   them  in  the design process. Subsequently, they  are sometimes sidelined, acting as the conduit between users  and other  designers. This  is worrying as there  might  be key insights that the inclusive designers might  be able  to  contribute, but  that  might  not  be  taken  up  by  their  non- inclusive peers as it did not come directly from the users. Sometimes it is overlooked that  it is not just  giving  the users  what  they  want, but  also  reading between the  lines  of  what  they  desire   as  well. Finally, I  do  think   from   a  philosophical  perspective, we  should challenge when  inclusive design is  merely  special needs  design– there is still quite a lot of confusion between the two.

What   do   you   see   as  the   major   opportunities  of   the inclusive design field?  How  would you address these opportunities?

The  biggest  opportunity  is  that   more   consideration  is  given   to inclusive design,  we train  more  designers to undertake it, and they carry  the  inclusive design philosophy throughout their  careers. It has  to  be  remembered that  it  is  not  a process that  serves  every designer.   There  are  a  number of  skills   that  are  needed   that  go beyond  merely  being  good at design–being good with  people  as well as having  patience and  empathy. There  are some  people  who  have tried  inclusive design and have not enjoyed it. So from a perspective of  introducing it  to  students, I always emphasize the  training in resilience, both  professionally and  personally, that  it also  provides. So  the   opportunity  lies   in  bringing  designers  to  the   inclusive programme so that they are aware  of it; even if they are not the type to undertake it themselves, they could  contribute through their  own skill set.

What   changes  do  you  see  on  the  horizon  in  inclusive design education?

Well,  I read  somewhere that  European legislation would make  it compulsory  that   all   architecture  students  are   taught   inclusive design.  I don’t  know  the  details as  I don’t  teach,  but  I do  have reservations   about    this.    Firstly,   this    action    would   require clarification about  what  exactly inclusive design is, as in the UK, the practice in built  environment construction is radically different from the   practice  in  built   environment  research.  These   need   to  be somehow brought together or we are going  to continue to have poor quality environments that  have  merely  met  the  letter  of  the  law rather  then use creative problem solving to address people’s needs. This  again  may  come  down  to the  question–can we  actually teach inclusive design or is it something designers have  to come  to and which we mentor?

What   changes  do  you  see  on  the  horizon  in  inclusive design research?

The   innovation  in   research  will    come   from   the   engagement processes designed to bring  people  into the inclusive design process. These are key in communicating with users, understanding their perspective and  experience, but  in a way  that  speaks  creatively to designers. Having  used  techniques from  the  social  sciences, I now see social  scientists using  these  research methodologies developed from  design,  and  it could  be that  design leads  the  way  in creative interaction  with   research  subjects  across   all  disciplines.  Having worked across  many  medical, engineering, and  social  disciplines I am very excited to see design methodologies being  engaged across disciplinary boundaries.

What   changes  do  you  see  on  the  horizon  in  inclusive design practice?

I am beginning to see a more  engaged consideration of sustainable elements  in  inclusive  design,   in  an  attempt  to  tackle   our  most serious global   concern of  climate change.     Unfortunately,  these design perspectives have often  been treated as singular movements when,  in my view, they are closely aligned. Inclusive design is, by its nature,  a socially sustainable practice and can be argued  to be economically sustainable. Now  it needs  to make  the case  for being environmentally sustainable and bringing in considerations of the circular economy. However this  also  means  it needs  to engage  with the  very  controversial perspective that  population ageing  is contributing to  climate change.   Hence   it  is,  in  my  opinion, that inclusive designers do so from a sustainable design perspective.

What  aspects of your inclusive design teaching/research/practice are most compelling and/or satisfying to you? Why?

For me, it will  always be making the difference for just  one person. So the student who attends one of my workshops in the early stages and  then  returns throughout their   two  years,  and  then  possibly becomes a research associate is a great  satisfaction. In research, it comes  from the users  who have engaged with  the process and come forward for  further studies. It is  always very  hard  to  recruit  a diversity of  people  for  research, and  so  I am  always grateful for those   who   willingly  share   their   time   and  experiences  with   us, especially in my particular area of built environment and public  toilet research as it often  takes  a long time for the research to be realized in practice. And  finally in practice–I would say it is the excitement of seeing  your research delivered. For me, this has been the creation of The Great British Public Toilet  Map and having  it go live for people to use.

What  changes have  you brought to inclusive design education?

I have   set  up  a  dedicated  Design   Ethnography  workshop  that introduces design students to the structure and processes of undertaking ethnographic research, and gives  them  a foundation to begin   exploring their   interaction with   users.   This  has  now  been delivered at the  Royal  College of Art,  the IE School  of Architecture and Design  in Madrid and the University for Art and Design  in Berlin. One  of  my  aims  is to  introduce as many  social  anthropologists to designers  as  possible,  so  that   they   can   share   knowledge  and experience that  helps   bring   the  user  to  the  forefront of  design research.

What  are  your  current research interests? How  have  you involved your students in your research?

My  current  research interests  focus   on  the  development  of  the design anthropology field  within inclusive design,  as well  as the access/inclusive  debate  that  is still  evidenced in the  design of the built  environment. At  a  micro  scale,  I am  still  interested in  the design of public  toilets and their  failure to meet people’s needs  from a functional design perspective, but also  am currently interested in the  problem of dog  fowling. Pet  ownership is an excellent way  for older   people   and   those   with   disabilities  to  combat   feelings  of loneliness. However what  happens if dog owners, whilst benefitting from   the  companionship  cannot   meet   the  civil   responsibility  of cleaning up after  their  pets?  I am very inspired by the work  of Hen power who  have  introduced chickens into  older  people’s lives.  I would like  to not only  explore how  pets  can help  combat  loneliness and  increase well-being, but  also  how  design may  possibly help those who are less able, to take care of their animal  friends.

Dr Jo-Anne Bichard

Jo-Anne Bichard

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.