What is it about?

While product designers normally follow international standards and apply ergonomic data - usage patterns, body dimensions etc. - to achieve better design outcomes with anticipated higher usability of a new product, this bread & butter method is unavailable in the design of disability products due to a lack of user data. Such user data for a user population with disabilities cannot be collected because no underlying standard exists.

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Why is it important?

Without a standard to measure user data of disabled people, product design of disability products will continue to fail international product design standards. In the absence of adherence to design standards, disability products will continue to lack certified quality, suffer from limited usability, and their procurement will cause systemic high cost due to an increased risk of incorrect prescription.

Perspectives

Disabled people can expect to have the same right to provision of adequate products which support their needs as the standard population of users will claim. The absence of a standard to even measure body dimension data of people with disabilities is no more acceptable in the modern world. Failure to provide standards and relevant design guidelines for assistive technology is likely to cause incorrect and eventually redundant prescriptions, and thus a severe financial burden on households and disability insurance schemes.

Gunther Paul
James Cook University

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This page is a summary of: Design for All – Design for Disabled: How important is anthropometry?, Work, October 2022, IOS Press, DOI: 10.3233/wor-211106.
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