Training designers for vulnerable generations: a quest for a more inclusive design
Journal article, 2014
This paper presents findings from a project focusing on the specific needs of vulnerable generations - children and elderly people - in design teaching and training activities. The thirty-months project embodied a series of activities for developing, implementing and evaluating teaching materials focused on design for vulnerable generations, and identified two critical elements for the promotion of more inclusive design. First, knowledge and skills were identified through a collaborative process with stakeholders. We also applied in-depth data collection methods, surveys, interviews and case studies with experts and operators in relevant industry and research centres, in order to identify training needs. From this, nine teaching modules were developed and tested in pilot studies. These will be made freely available online. Second, we identified the need to disseminate, focus and increase awareness among teachers, design students and professionals for vulnerable generations. This was achieved through the establishment of an international design award. Three different categories of award with relevant sets of criteria were developed through an iterative process and have been launched and evaluated. The contribution of this paper is twofold. Firstly, to encourage educators, through the communication and dissemination of the results of the project, to extend their user groups to include design for vulnerable generations, and secondly to enhance designers’ interest and knowledge in working with design for vulnerable generations.