CN18 - “Is Universal Design Dead?” Creating inclusive user experience design methods

Conveners: Helen Armstrong, Elizabeth Guffey, Farnaz Nickpour, & Bess Williamson

By 2050 there will be more people over age 65 than under 5 in developed countries (United Nations, 2015). The question is not “are you disabled” but “when will you be disabled.” Simultaneously, we are seeing a shift away from the precepts of Universal Design toward a more flexible and inclusive paradigm. Sometimes labeled “design for one,” the latter builds on the heritage of barrier free design, but aims not for design for all, but one size fits one. While differientiation and customization to individuals—via emerging technologies such as Machine Learning—is increasingly the “new norm,” our current user-centered design tools presume user abilities in vision and motor dexterity. They lack inclusion. This conversation will begin by assessing and discussing user-centered design methods in relation to users with disabilities. This conversation will then broaden the discussion to consider Universal vrs. Inclusive Design. More specifically, how does our reconsideration of user-centered methods reflect a larger shift toward designing for unique users? What impact do emerging technologies like Machine Learning have upon these approaches? How can adaptive codesign strategies be applied to a range of users that fall upon a spectrum of impairment?

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