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Can We Design for the whole Population without Excluding Anybody?

The Role of Universal and Inclusive Design within an Ageing Society

Sous la direction de Anniina Koivu et Brynjar Sigurðarson

We are now living in a world of a rapidly ageing population, which entails a large variety of different physical and cognitive abilities. We are thus facing a cultural upheaval that demands us to rethink existing life and work patterns. How must we adapt commodities, homes and urban spaces to ensure that all members of society can live in a self-reliant and independent way and are able to maintain social networks and participate in society? Inclusive and Universal design can open up interesting opportunities to enrich the lives of everyone.

During on-site research in care homes and houses for assisted living and interviews among residents and care staff, I noticed that age-related impairments limit the freedom of elderly people in everyday life. The more time people spend with care staff, the more challenging it becomes for them to cultivate social networks, such as families, friends, neighborhoods, and communities, resulting in many elderly people living in social isolation. I read a lot about Inclusive and universal design and found exciting opportunities in this approach. The goal is to design consumer goods and interiors in a way that everyone, including people of different cognitive and physical abilities, can live as self-determined as possible. Living a more independent life enables and invites socially isolated people to participate in encounters and contribute to society again. The scope of how we will enjoy our later years depends crucially on how products and environments are designed. Being a product designer myself, I was very interested in understanding users with different abilities to not only design from my personal perspective.