Being Blind : A study in designing for the Disabled
January 28, 2010 5 Comments
The universal design module was conducted by Prof S Balaram at NID.
As part of this module we researched about people who are differently abled, and find the problems they face in their daily lives. Products are generally designed in such a way that they don’t target this audience which is differently abled. There are very few designs that cater to this audience. This course helped us understand how evolutionary design can be implemented to allow a product to be used by a larger audience. Universal design as the name suggests is designing for a larger audience in such a way that differences can be destroyed.
I stayed blind folded for one whole day and did all that I could in that state. Being a Lefthander already put me in a spot where I could call myself disabled and in the past I have given the pleasure to common everyday objects like pens, notebooks, microwave ovens, scissors to brand me as a bad workman but being blind and using any of these products was a herculean task.
To start with, moving a little towards the left was taking a left turn was a left at 90 degrees. The stick that I held at all times became an extension of my arm and was the only way I could find my way around.eg. Getting to the water cooler was a big challenge. At NID the water cooler leaks and the area near the water cooler is always wet. Somehow I was searching for this wet texture on the floor. To my surprise, on this particular day, the cooler fixed. I was lost and thirsty.
Another thing that I realized during this assignment was how my other senses took over the moment one was shut down. My sense of hearing and figuring where who was became very acute. Overall, it was a great experience and what followed was even more exciting. We had to pick up a few of these daily use products and “universalize” them.
I picked up the standard scissors, microwave oven, the classic exam chair and an ordinary vessel. We had to adopt an evolutionary design process where we had to make minimum changes to the existing products so that it is usable to a larger audience.
More to come.