|The Design Challenge...|
While most of us face daily life with confidence, advancing age increases the number and severity of our physical and sensory limitations. Products and environments that do not deliver safety, comfort, convenience, ease of use, and bodily fit discriminate against our age and ability.
AS WE AGE WE MAY DEVELOP one or more physical or sensory impairments. We look to our homes and household products to help us maintain our independence and support our activities of daily living. But whatever our age or ability, many products and environments that once provided years of enjoyment and stimulation become less supportive and useful—their unyielding design and lack of sensitivity provoke curses of pain and frustration.
TOO MANY TIMES a product's promised service and comfort gradually change into pangs of annoyance and pain, thwarting our efforts, eroding our self respect, and robbing us of our precious independence. We increasingly experience:
How easily can you send and receive text messages? Connect your printer or storage drive? Replace the memory chip in your digital camera? Adjust the height of your chair? Make your bed? Shine your shoes?
Do your kitchen cabinets make you bend to low or reach too high? Are you afraid of slipping or falling on your stair or in your bathtub or shower? Can you clean the rug beneith your dining room table?
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Not only is this strategy sensible, it also addresses society's qwest for equality, diversity and human rights—particularly for those who are old or disabled.
As we age, both awareness and experience reinforce the fact that chronic health problems increase with age. We tend to forget, however, that debilitating events can also occur to ANYONE, at ANY AGE, at ANY TIME.
And we don't have to be old to acquire them. We remain vulnerable throughout our lives to the unexpected trauma of accidental falls, sprains, burns, broken bones, disease, injury, illness—even pregnancy.
Four simple facts explain our vulnerability to physical and sensory impairments (see Wikipedia article):
Therefore, shouldn't a fire extinguisher, bathroom fixture, microwave oven, kitchen cabinet, wireless phone, or ironing board be as easy to use by an arthritic septuagenarian, a teenager with a sprained wrist, a Baby Boomer in a wheelchair, or a 20-something pregnant housewife with poor eyesight?
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