Saturday, November 8, 2008

Design for All

La accesibilidad al medio fisico, la inginieria y el diseño (3-6.11.08)

Last week I have been attending the conference about accessibility design (La accesibilidad al medio fisico, la inginieria y el diseño). It was quite a challenge as the lectures were five hours long, four days in a row. And they were all held in Spanish.

The buzz phrase for all of the lectures was 'Diseño para todos' (design for everyone). It was said, that about 40% of the world's population has somehow reduced accessibility. Mainly due to their age (children, elderly), disabilities (handicapped, mental impaired) or temporary states (pregnancy, injuries). Many environments and products are not suitable for those people and create obstacles in their everyday lives, which is twice as unfair, as their lives are quite complicated anyway.
The current trend is to design with the consideration of users with reduced accessibility. 'Trend' is not the right word. I would say it is a necessity, that is strongly supported by European and Spanish legislation (every single lecture started with quoting the Spanish 'ley 55/2007 de 28 de diciembre' - I know it by heart now...).
I believe the matter is really important. And design is only one aspect of the problem. Looking at the bigger picture - it is a social challenge: to change the perception of the people, who are now seen as 'abnormal' and include them back in the society. And certainly it does not mean designing special objects/services for them, which would only exaggerate the difference, but creating universal things, that are equally attractive and accessible for all users.
Sounds so good and noble... and unfortunately very utopian.

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