Stigma: addressing negative associations of artefacts in product design

Year: 2009
Editor: Clarke, A, Ion, W, McMahon, C and Hogarth, P
Author: Stockton, Glynn M.
Page(s): 546-551


Inclusive Design is the practice of providing access to a solution for as many users as possible. However, stigma can be seen as the Achilles heel of Inclusive Design, as it is possible for artefacts employed by users outside of mainstream society to carry a negative association independently of the user. This can result in mainstream users rejecting the product, which can in turn become a signifier of the stigmatised condition leading to further discrimination. This paper details methods identified for addressing negative associations that products can carry when employed by stigmatised user groups. It is made clear from the outset that stigma is a societal wide issue and the research is not intended to try and address this; the outcome is intended to be a disassociation from the stigma for the artefacts. Research was conducted and several methods were identified where products had become successfully disassociated from the stigmatised user, meaning that the product itself was free from any negative association. These methods were then taxonomised and evaluated for effectiveness for creating artefacts free of negative association. It was found that it is possible to create artefacts that are free from negative association and although it may not have been the intention to address the stigma of the user, this may occur as a benefit.

Keywords: Inclusive design, product design, design methodology, product design education, learning, undergraduate design education, stigma, negative association


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