|What is "transgenerational design?"|
It's the practice of making products and environments compatible with those physical and sensory impairments associated with human aging and which limit major activities of daily living.
We don't read much in the popular press about “transgenerational design”, nor hear it discussed very often at cocktail parties. But most people, when introduced to a "transgenerational" product or environment, immediately recognize its benefits.
Transgenerational products and environments:
Quite simply, transgenerational design promotes graceful aging, softens the impact of the aging process, extends independent living, and enhances the quality of life for all—the young, the old, the able, the disabled.
In short, transgenerational designs accommodate rather than discriminate and innovate rather than replicate.
What It's NOT
Designs produced with code-compliant concentration usually result in starkly functional, impersonal products and environments that lack human sensitivity, interest, and appeal (i.e., grab bars, threshold ramps, hand rails, door knob extenders, bathtub handles, raised toilet seats), which reek with "institutional," "medical," "aging," and "disability" connotations.
designs sympathize rather
What It IS
It's more than just functional design accommodation based on mandated professional and governmental standards. It also considers the users' individuality, aesthetic sensitivity, social stature, and self respect.
Transgenerational designs innovate rather than replicate!
What It DOES
sensitive designs of household products, architecture, living spaces, transportation, and communication systems.
Transgenerational designs emphasize safety, comfort, convenience, beauty, accessibility, clean-ability, adjust-ability, ease of use, and bodily fit—features that extends one's independence, enhances one's lifesyle, and reinforces one's dignity and self-respect!
Transgenerational design delivers five essential benefits:
have broad 'transgenerational'
Each problem aroused a separate segment of our global conscience and sparked efforts to satisfy the swelling need for accessible housing, products, and environments that are usable by, and attractive to, people of all ages and abilities.
Disability Rights Movement
By the 1950s, more and more people were surviving injuries and diseases that were fatal prior to the 20th-century's advances in biotechnical medicine. Efforts by the growing population of military veterans and young adults to participate fully in society gained momentum.
Disabled people have historically been forced into dependency relying on others to speak for them, label them, and take care of them. Responding during the early 1970s, those with disabilities began forming loose communities, coming together in centers for independent living.
As early as October 20, 1979 — linked by the common cause of achieving "equality for everyone"— the nascent disability rights movement strengthened its determination and created a "Disabled Peoples' Civil Rights Day Rally."
Seeking independence, autonomy, and full access to society, disabled people strengthened their determination to not only overcome prejudice, but also the physical environmental barriers, which llmited their access to employment and restricted their activities of daily living.
The strength of their collective demands for environmental accessibility sparked a societal awakening, modified the mind-set of government units, and helped forge a historic disability rights movement.
As the movement grew, its dedicated efforts fueled the passage of two milestone acts of federal legislation:
The introduction of both Acts led to welcomed societal inclusion for people with disabilities. But the Acts' mandated but well-intended access provisions, governmental regulations, codes, standards and policies for reshaping a broad spectrum of physical environments, produced unintentional results—particularly within the building industry and architectural profession.
The laws' legal pressure slowly increased accessibilitiy by forcing fundamental changes and additions to the nation's architectural and public environments. Mandated counter heights and hall widths, ramps, hand rails, and grab bars quickly became familiar items.
of physical disabilities,
soon became a
visual icon for disability—their
the stigma of handicpped.
Response to an Aging Population
Not only were they increasingly expanding the number of those within the older population, they were also living longer—a prediction that a future rise in the number of physical and sensory impairments and disabilities was inevitable—and an early signal that the design professions would face a growing new challenge.
Congress's passing of the Age Discrimination Act of 1975 (ADA), which prohibited "discrimination on the basis of age in programs and activities receiving Federal financial assistance", signaled society's growing awareness and concern. Ensuing political interest and debate over the Act's 1978 amendments led to the abolishing of mandatory retirement at age 65 and injected the issues of aging into the mainstream of societal awareness.
Advancements in medical research began to extended longevity and gradually changed society's image of age from one of senility and dependency to activity and independence. The media, responding to the public's growing awareness, reinforced aging's new image with increasingly positive articles, programs and cover stories.
The 1985 agreement by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Administration on Aging, the Farmer's Home Adminmistration, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development would improve building, landcape, product, and grapic design for older Americans, which would make products more appealing and easier to use by the elderly.
Recognizing the design implications of population aging, the concept and term, "Transgenerational Design," emerged in 1986, coined by Syracuse University industrial design professor James J. Pirkl, FIDSA. It identified the research area undertaken in the year-long Design-for-Aging project funded by a grant from the Administrative Office of Human Development Services, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, DC.
The project, completed in 1987, was initiated and collaborated on by Syracuse University's Department of Design, All-University Geronology Center, and Center for Instructional Development. The project, Led by professor Pirkl and Gerontologist, Anna A. Babic, published and distributed two seminal books published in 1988:
In addition to providing specialized information about the realities of human aging, each manual contained a detailed set of design guidelines and strategies for accommodating limitations and changing abilities in vision, hearing, touch, and mobility that lead to impairments and disabilities affecting people of all ages and abilities.
The book's transgenerational concept promoted a new message: "Make products and environments compatible with those physical and sensory impairments associated with human aging and which limit major activities of daily living."
Over the years, the book has had a profound effect. Attracting world wide attention, recognition, and adoption—it continues to source numerous citations, presentations, seminars, thesises, book chapters, and articles about the concept and benefits of Transgenerational Design.
Because its neutral and non-stigmatizing label bridges all ages and abilities, an increasing number of astute global manufacturers and research organizations embrace the ‘transgenerational’ design concept, recognizing its competitive advantage for attracting the attention—and collective buying power—of the exploding aging market.
AS THE NEW MILLENNIUM PROCEEDS, one can envisage the swelling impact that transgenerational design will have on tomorrow's products and environments—and those that they serve.
The answer, of course, will be determined, not only by the demands of the marketplace, but also the degree of societal sensitivity demonstrated by the fruits of tomorrow's designers.
In the end, howsever, successful solutions will only be achieved by uniting those forms of function and beauty that accommodate the widest range of ages and abilities within the vast spectrum of human needs—the essense of professional design responsibility and service.
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