Designing for people that are WELL old

2011-03-04T10:08:16Z (GMT) by Laurence Clift Edward Elton
In the UK, inclusion is an important topic on different social levels and the need for change in government, education and industry to reduce social exclusion is recognised. Despite a range of datasets and methods having been created to help minimise exclusion, the topic of inclusion and, in particular, inclusive design is not yet covered in education i.e. the Design and Technology curriculum. Engaging school pupils with the topic has the greatest potential to bring about long-term change towards a more inclusive society. This paper reports on the outcomes of several design workshops on inclusivity. The workshops were aimed at, and conducted with, key stage 3 and key stage 4 pupils. The overall aim of the workshop was to establish the impact that current inclusive design methods have on the mindset of the pupils. The methods used in the workshop included impairment simulators and case studies. An assessment at the beginning and end of the workshop evaluated changes in attitude. A total of 10 workshops were conducted with over 150 pupils. It was found that such methods do provide insights that result in solutions that address inclusive issues. This paper concludes with the view that inclusive design methods can impact and change the mindsets of pupils as young as 11 years old. However, if a truly inclusive society is to be achieved, there is a need to instigate change in the overall national design ethos i.e. focusing more on principles than practice and preventing the immediate leap to solutions rather than identifying the true nature of the problems.