TORRENS, G., 2000. The implementation of a user-centred design approach by student industrial designers when designing for elderly and disabled people. The Design Journal, 3 (1), pp. 15 - 30
This paper describes the introduction of a new module to an undergraduate degree programme for industrial designers in the Department of Design and Technology at Loughborough University. The implementation of the module and its subsequent outcomes will be related to the changing professional needs of graduating industrial designers.
The aim of the module is to enable students to practise the use of data collection techniques that provide evidence for their design decision-making. It is also to emphasize the industrial designer's role in the development of the desirability of a product within a given social group, The objectives of the module are to: raise the awareness of industrial design students to the demographic shift towards older consumers and the needs of disabled people; introduce them to more rigorous methods of user assessment; gain an empathy with users outside their personal experience; and provide students with an opportunity to apply their skills and knowledge in the field of user assessment. A research task enabled students to achieve the set objectives in collaboration with local community groups and individual elderly and disabled volunteers.
The issues raised within this paper are also of relevance to practising industrial designers who wish to work in the field of Rehabilitation Technology/Assistive Technology (RT/AT) product development, or enhance their knowledge of user-centred design. The paper provides the international industrial design community with an introduction to the support infrastructure in the United Kingdom for the social groups involved in this work.
This article was published in The Design Journal [Bloomsbury Journals ]. The definitive version is available at: http://www.bloomsbury.com