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Author: Dong, Hua
Supervisor: Clarkson, P. John; Keates, Simeon
Institution: Department of Engineering, University of Cambridge
Demographic changes are leading to an increasing number of older people worldwide and legislation is increasingly requiring consideration of accessibility issues. Despite knowledge of these changing paradigms and the potential benefits of inclusive design, industry in the UK has been slow to adapt. There is a need to understand what prevents the industry from adopting a more inclusive approach and what can be done to overcome the barriers.
This thesis describes an exploratory study with the consumer product industry in the UK to gain an understanding of barriers and drivers for inclusive design. Hypotheses emerged from the review of literature and led to the setting-up of three descriptive studies: interviews with design consultancies that participated in an inclusive design competition; a survey of manufacturers and retailers; and a survey of design consultancies. Data collected from these studies were used to test and verify the hypotheses. It was found that major barriers to inclusive design were related to a lack of awareness and a lack of accessible information. The comparison of perceptions of manufacturers, retailers and design consultancies also reveals the lack of communication between them.
Consequently practical support was developed to raise awareness of inclusive design, to provide information for industry, and to improve communication between designers and clients. The support tools, entitled the i~design Primer and the i~design Toolkit, were tested with industry and positive feedback was received. A framework of a Web-based Toolkit was proposed for further development.
This research has contributed towards understanding barriers to inclusive design, and it is the first comparative study of barriers to inclusive design. It has generated new data and tools to support inclusive design. This support is one of only a few resources designed to support inclusive design in industry.