TORRENS, G., 2011. Universal design: empathy and affinity. IN: Karwowski, W., Soares, M.M. and Stanton, N.A. (eds). Human Factors and Ergonomics in Consumer Product Design: Methods and Techniques. Boca Raton, Fl: CRC Press, pp. 233 - 248.
Why is it important for a designer to realise products and services for people who are elderly and or disabled? The answer to this question may be provided by the author’s own decision to work in this field. As a young designer in the 80s’, he wanted to make a difference to the quality of life of those in his society. On review of areas within which one could work it was clear that medical or rehabilitation technology/assistive technology (RT/AT) product design would make the greatest impact on the target user’s quality of life. Papanek (1974) advocated these areas as ones in which designers should aspire to work; he was many years ahead of the design establishment. From a societal viewpoint, using technology to enable people to be more independent and engage with society increases the potential help that finite resources can provide within a provision of care. It also facilitates the empowerment of an individual; enhancing their personal esteem; and, supporting well-being. Over the last twenty years the author has designed enabling products for people who are elderly and those who have some form of impairment.