Lorraine Justice, Carl Blunt, Rob Roy, Dennis Folds | Georgia Institute of Technology
A growing recognition of the importance of designing for people with physical and mental impairments comes as the majority of the U.S. population ages over the next decade. Universal design is a phrase commonly used to represent a product design that helps with an impairment such as arthritis and also helps the greater population. Assistive technology is a phrase that is becoming more common in the design field and relates to product design done specifically for a person or focused impairment but it is not always intended for the greater population. Inclusive design is a phrase used to describe design activities that takes all people into consideration for a product design. Although all of these terms vary in their specificity, they all embrace the area of designing for disabilities. The phrase universal design was chosen for its recognition in the design field.
As this area of design grows, the need for instruction, content and teaching materials grows. Design instructors, and faculty from other related disciplines, find themselves teaching this new content without the support of a robust body of knowledge from which to pull, teaching examples and materials.
Given that, the Industrial Design Program, the Center for Assistive Technology and Environmental Access (CATEA) and the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) were funded by the National Institute of Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) through the Information Technology Technical Assistance and Training Center (ITTATC).
One purpose of the research was to identify needs for supplemental material and other instructional aids that would facilitate the inclusion of universal design in undergraduate education for designers. The other was to learn where universal design was being taught in the design curriculum and the amount of content covered by faculty.
This report presents the results of the U.S. survey of undergraduate industrial design programs on universal design instruction. The scope of the report details the status of universal design instruction in the nation’s undergraduate industrial design programs, including current levels of instruction, and perceived barriers to improving instruction. The schools chosen for the survey were taken the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) listing of industrial design programs in the U.S. Both research universities and Art schools were asked to participate. Not included in the survey were technical schools, programs having 10 or fewer students, or those schools providing only graduate design education.