i~design 3: extending active living through more effective inclusive design

Lead Research Organisation: Loughborough University
Department Name: Ergonomics and Safety Research Institute


Rapid and unprecedented population ageing poses a serious social and economic challenge across the developed world. Shifts in dependency ratios point to escalating welfare and pensions costs which require radical and imaginative responses from Government and industry. Key to this is maintaining a healthy population that is able and willing to work longer before retirement and can remain independent for as long as possible afterwards. A further requirement is to bring disabled people into mainstream life and employment. This challenge is recognised increasingly, resulting in new legislation impacting on the major world economies. Addressing it requires: (1) understanding wellbeing and its relationship to independence; (2) the redesign of workplaces and jobs to suit the changed profile of the working population.There is a global market for products and services designed with older and less able people in mind, and industry is responding to this opportunity, both in the UK and internationally. A recent survey (commissioned by the UK Department of Trade and Industry and undertaken by CITD with Professors Clarkson and Coleman) of UK companies awareness and skills gap with regard to inclusive design concluded that the majority of companies are aware of inclusive design and its benefits. However, barriers remain to industry uptake in the form of: (1) the lack of a perceived justifiable business case to support inclusive design; (2) the lack of knowledge and tools to practice inclusive design; (3) a better understanding of the difficulties experienced by the majority of users of new technology products; and (4) access to appropriate user sets. Importantly, the end-user data derived from earlier Office of National Statistics surveys on disability needs to be updated with data describing users from a product/user perspective, enabling designers to estimate better reasons for, and levels of, user exclusion and to provide greater insight in the search for better design solutions.Inclusion is an important topic within Government, as witnessed by a number of recent reports from the House of Lords and offices of the lower house. All see the need for change in government and industry to reduce exclusion in society, but few solutions are put forward that will encourage such change. It is also clear that descriptions of 'end-users', i.e. those that we wish to include, are vague and lacking in the detail required to encourage positive action. However, despite these shortcomings there is a mood for change and the proposed research team have good links with many of the government offices responsible for these reports.This proposal responds to the above challenges by extending the focus of earlier i~design work and expanding the research team to reflect these new priorities. The philosophy underlying inclusive design specifically extends the definition of users to include people who are excluded by rapidly changing technology, especially the elderly and ageing, and prioritises the role and value of extreme users in innovation and new product/service development. It also prioritises the context of use, both physical and psychological, and the complexity of interactions between products, services and interfaces in contexts of use such as independent living. Key research requirements are:1. Better descriptions of product/service users linked to more accurate data and represented in designer-friendly formats2. Closer integration of anthropometric, capability and social data3. More effective application of users and user data to job and workplace design, and healthcare systems design4. Better understanding of the extent and nature of exclusion (across the whole population) resulting from and associated with the implementation of new technologies5. Definition and verification of the means to capture a national user data set: designing and piloting the research requirements for a major survey capable of international replication.
Description Loughborough Design School (formerly the Ergonomics and Safety Research Institute) at Loughborough University has investigated the extent to which everyday contexts of use impact on product interaction.

Early in the project, focus groups and observations with older people helped us to identify situations where context has the biggest impact upon product interaction. We explored people's feelings and motivations, the nature of their everyday tasks and both the physical and social environments in which they interacted with products. This exploratory study formed the basis of a Context Framework, which illustrates the multi-faceted impact of context upon user capabilities and product demands. This comprehensive description of the various aspects of Context can be found under Activities in http://www.designingwithpeople.com, developed at the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design at the Royal College of Art.

Two experiments were conducted with older people (65+ years) to determine what effect the physical environment had on two key product interaction capabilities - vision and dexterity. For vision, four everyday lighting levels were investigated (daylight, overcast, in-house lighting, and street lighting) with older users reading different letter size and contrast combinations. Results showed there was a significant reduction in visual ability between three of the lighting conditions tested (i.e. overcast, in-house lighting and street lighting). Findings from this experiment demonstrated the importance of considering the impact of ambient illumination when designing everyday products.

For dexterity, neutral (19°C-24°C) and everyday cold temperatures (5°C) were investigated. Findings from the dexterity study indicated that grip strength (power and pinch grip) is not affected by 5°C cold temperatures. However, fine finger dexterity is significantly reduced when a person is exposed to this average winter temperature for approximately 40 minutes. This demonstrates the importance of reducing the need to make fine, precise, controlled movements with your hands and encouraging designers to find alternative ways for people to interact with products in colder temperatures.

The experimental data have been translated into a software tool by Loughborough University that can be used to inform designers in the development of products. This tool can be found at http://www.lboro.ac.uk/microsites/lds/context-calculator/
Exploitation Route As well as raising awareness of contextual issues, applying this research will help designers to ensure that products are accessible and usable by the vast majority of the population in everyday environments. Therefore, more people will be able to use the product, increasing market share, and fewer users will experience difficulty or frustration, which will ultimately enhance the user's product experience. There is a lack of older adult context capability data, and this research has made a start with regard to vision and dexterity. There is still a need to consider other aspects of context of use with regard to product interaction, but this research also demonstrates that the translation of capability data into a suitable form for designers is essential for it to be applied by designers.
Sectors Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software)



Description The experimental data have been translated into a software tool by Loughborough University that can be used to inform designers in the development of products. This tool can be found at http://www.lboro.ac.uk/microsites/lds/context-calculator/
First Year Of Impact 2010
Sector Education,Environment
Impact Types Societal

Title Context Calculator 
Description The experimental data have been translated into a software tool by Loughborough University that can be used to inform designers in the development of products. The Context Calculator, focussing specifically on the experimental results from the vision and dexterity studies, will be linked to the i-design toolkit at http://www.inclusivedesigntoolkit.com/, and can be found in the Loughborough Design School resources at http://www.lboro.ac.uk/microsites/lds/context-calculator/ Iteratively tested with designers to ensure its usefulness and usability, the Context Calculator provides: - data on older adults' capabilities in a range of everyday environmental conditions, - exclusion data indicating who would be excluded/included through certain design decisions, - information on how legible different letter size and contrast combinations are under a range of everyday lighting conditions, and - information on the extent average winter temperatures can affect the dexterity of older people when using products and technologies. 
Type Of Technology Webtool/Application 
Year Produced 2011 
Impact Used in education of designers and ergonomists to raise awareness of the need to design products more inclusively. 
URL http://www.lboro.ac.uk/microsites/lds/context-calculator/