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The Design Challenge...      
     Transgenerational Design
     A New Design Era
    The Design Challenge 
     The Design Options
Fiskars Sissors Photo

FISKARS SOFTOUCH sissors utilize a compression or "squeeze" motion. They assist individuals with low hand strength, affected by arthritis, or use sissors daily.



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.


 Discrimination by Design

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.

Annoying Examples

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:
  • iNSTRUCTIONS and DIRECTIONS that are confusing or unreadable
  • HANDLES we can't grasp or twist
  • CONTROLS we can't reach or operate
  • COUNTER TOPS that are too high or too low
  • PRODUCTS full of confusing detail
  • LIGHTING that is too bright, too dim, or glaring
  • PUSH BUTTONS that are too small or too close together
  • FURNITURE that doesn't fit our bodies
  • DOORS we can't open or close
  • OPERATIONS that are "sophisticated" instead of intuitive
  • FEATURES that confuse and frustrate us
  • FLOORS and STAIRS that cause us to trip, slip, or fall
  • SHELVING we can't reach or adjust
  • ALARMS that are too loud or inaudible

 Hostile Designs
Accessible Vanity
Broken Ankle  

Any changes to our vision, hearing, tactile sensitivity, or movement capabilities intensify the environmental challenge and prevents us from living a more normal and independent lifestyle.

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?

And for those in wheelchairs—or recovering from a heart attack, stroke, or coping with arthritis—are these things difficult? Or are they impossible?

  Intergenerational Solutions 


Aaccommodating—and attractive— transgenerational products and environments are easily used by a diverse population—the young, the old, the able, the disabled—without penalty to any group.

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):

  • Young people become old
  • Old people can become disabled
  • Disabled people become old
  • Young people can become disabled.

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?

We think so! Transgenerational Design provides the answers. It's an idea whose time has arrived.


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